National Meatball Day

raw meatballs on a cutting board with vegetables and herbs on wooden rustic background - National Meatball DayCloudy with a Chance of MeatballsWho remembers the movie – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs? We personally seen the movie, as we enjoy movies with a twist of culinary action in it (other greats: No Reservations).

A meatball is a small or large ball of ground meat, especially beef, often mixed with other ingredients of choice, like breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings

The preparing of meatballs is an individual’s expression of culinary creativity. Everyone who loves cooking has a different meatball recipe. 

There is no rule to cooking meatballs, as they are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce.

The meatball dates back all the way to between 221 BC to 207 BC in China, with their culinary – Four Joy Meatballs.

Yes, there really is true love for a meatballs. How so? Just look at the different ways of taking ground beef (or meat of choice) and preparing them into little balls.

This list is not complete, but there are many meatball recipes out there.

Do you question the hedgehog meatballs? Well, it really isn’t hedgehog, but as Anglea Day Kitchen says, “This recipe is so called, because when cooked, the rice sticks out, making them look like hedgehogs.”

Hedgehog Meatballsceramic baking dish with Hedgehog Meatballs

2 1/4 pounds ground beef (can also use chicken, turkey, lamb, or pork)

3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

1 onion, finely chopped

1 green pepper, finely chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

salt and pepper

Sauce:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 40 ounce can of chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

salt and pepper

pinch of sugar

Combine the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. Shape into balls about the size of a golf ball. Prepare sauce, and place meatballs into an ovenproof baking dish, then pour sauce over the meatballs.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

SAUCE:
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, herbs, seasoning and sugar.
Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a blender or food processor, and puree to a smooth sauce.
Pour the sauce over the meatballs.

Meatballs Are Not Only For Spaghetti

Spaghetti with meatballs is not an authentic Italian dish. As is bowls of olive oil set out for for dunking bread at Italian restaurants (USA), so is spaghetti served with a red sauce and topped with meatballs, both an American creation. The pasta recipe may have made its appearance in New York or New Jersey (USA) in the late 19th century.

Sue, owner and writer of “The View From Great Island” says, I love meatballs.  They’re like little soldiers, all lined up, just waiting to be of service…” She even like’s these little bite sized Bourbon Meatballs which are drenched in apricot chili bourbon sauce, and she says, “They’re perfect for the cocktail hour.”

Bourbon Meatballs on a small white plate with dipping sauce

Image credit: The View From Great Island

3/4 pound ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork

1/2 cup  Ritz Cracker, finely crushed into crumbs (you can opt for plain bread crumbs)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

lots of fresh cracked pepper

1 egg

2 tablespoon olive oil

Bourbon Sauce

1 jar apricot preserves

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoon hot chili sauce

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup water

Set oven to 350F

Put the above ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the meat as you put it in. Mix together, using the tips of your fingers to gently combine everything without compacting the meat. Form into small 1 inch balls.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs, working in batches. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through, about 160 degrees.

Place cooked meatballs into the sauce, and let heat through until ready to serve. Serve on a plate with toothpicks, a drizzle of sauce, and lots of napkins. Serve a bowl of sauce on the side for extra dipping.

To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until thick.

Sue even makes Herbed Meatballs and says, “You can eat these meatballs on pasta, on a split French roll with sauce and melted mozzarella, or all by themselves in a little bowl.”

Yes, meatballs are not just for topping a plate of spaghetti any more.

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball SoupOrange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup

1 lb. ground pork

2 green onions

3 clove garlic, minced

1 piece (1-inch) peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

4-5 teaspoons of orange zest

4 cups vegetable broth

8 oz. snow peas, cut into thirds at an angle

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup cooked black beans

Arrange oven rack 6 inches from broiler heat source. Preheat broiler on high. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a medium bowl, combine pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper (both optional). Form pork mixture into bite-size meatballs (about 1 inch each).  Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, in covered 5-quart sauce pot, heat broth to simmering on high. Once the broth is simmering, add snow peas, rice, beans and cooked meatballs. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and snow peas are tender.

There’s even a – Meatball Stuffed Baked Potato – recipe found here at Homemade By Elle.

Enjoy some meatballs however you choose, this day – National Meatball Day!!

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Pork – That’s What’s For Breakfast Lunch And Dinner

Pork - That's What's For Breakfast Lunch And DinnerThe Washington Post wrote an article in October of 2014 about the Tudor Place that housed 6 generations from 1816 to 1983.

Tudor Place became one of the first 70 U.S. properties designated a “National Historic Landmark” in 1960, when the designation was created.

Tudor Place

Image Credit: City Profile

Tudor Place in Georgetown Heights (Washington D.C.) was built by Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Martha Curtis Peter and her husband.

Residents of Tudor Place had a small smoke-house that all 6 generations relied on to smoke their meats.

Can you guess what meat they smoked most often, and ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? If you guessed “Pork,” you guessed correctly.

When touring the residence, you are able to see displayed, a cookbook that served 6 generations providing the kitchen cooks with recipes that only included pork as the main ingredient.

The Washington Post wrote stating that communications officer for Tudor Place, Mandy Katz says that pork was on the dinning table 3 times a day.

Smokehouse at Tuder Place

Preservation Manager Jessica Zullinger and staff tour newly restored Smokehouse – Image Credit: tuderplace.org

The small smoke-house we made mention of was never on the tour of Tudor Place. But it was renovated and became part of the tour on the 23rd of October 2014.

The newly added structure to the Tudor Place tour was celebrated with, yes you guessed – pork. Little smokies and pulled pork sliders to be exact.

This year, 2016 is Tudor Place Bicentennial. You can read and learn more about Tudor Place by linking here: Tudor Place – America’s Story Lives Here.

Our featured recipes include pork, and they are…

  1. Smoked Bacon Golden Beets and Kale Hash
  2. Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup
  3. Stuffed And Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Chops with Brown Sugar And Spice Glazed Carrots

Smoked Bacon Golden Beets and Kale HashSmoked Bacon Golden Beets and Kale Hash

2 strips of smoked bacon per serving, cut into 1-inch slices

1 medium golden beet, shredded

1/2 cup kale, remove leafy parts from steam, leaves torn bite size

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until just done. Next add beets, stir in, and cook 1 minute more. Add kale and stir in just until wilted. Plate and serve.

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup

1 lb. ground pork

2 green onions

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup3 clove garlic, minced

1 piece (1-inch) peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

4-5 teaspoons of orange zest

4 cups vegetable broth

8 oz. snow peas, cut into thirds at an angle

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup cooked black beans

Arrange oven rack 6 inches from broiler heat source. Preheat broiler on high. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a medium bowl, combine pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper (both optional). Form pork mixture into bite-size meatballs (about 1 inch each).  Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, in covered 5-quart sauce pot, heat broth to simmering on high. Once the broth is simmering, add snow peas, rice, beans and cooked meatballs. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and snow peas are tender.

Stuffed And Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Chops With Brown Sugar And Spice Glazed Carrots

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

Stuffed and Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Chops with Brown Sugar and Spice Glazed Carrots1 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic

1/4 cup butter, milted

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional)

1 pound pork loin chops, thin cut

8 slices smoked bacon

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 pound carrots, sliced down the middle and cut into 2 inch slices

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Mix sugar and spices in a small bowl and set aside.

Spread some cream cheese on one side of chops. Sprinkle on some sugar-spice mix. Roll chops and wrap with one slice of bacon. Use a tooth pick or two to hold in place.

Arrange prepared chops into a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish.

Next add melted butter to sugar-spice mix, and incorporate.  Add cut carrots to a 13 X 9 glass baking dish and mix in sugar-spice.

Roast both prepared baking dishes for 30 minutes, or until pork is cook.

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Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Prosciutto Cotto and LentilsLentils have 18 grams of protein per serving, making them the third highest level of protein than any other plant food. Garbanzo beans and wheat berries both have 12 grams of protein per serving.

types of lentilsOut of all the varieties that are grown for consumption, the French Green Lentils are considered the most flavorful, having a delicate peppery taste.

They originated in Puy, France, though today they are also grown in Canada (highest production) Italy and the United States.

The French variety lentil hold their shape well while only taking about 30 to 40 minutes to cook.

On New Year’s Eve in Italy people eat “lenticchie stufate” or in a soup. Why? This is an old symbol of good luck in the Italian tradition, because of their round shape, which resembles coins. They say the more you eat, the more wealth that comes to you.

Our featured recipe contains French Green Lentils, and here is what you well need to prepare your own Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils.

diced vegetables for Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Real Whole Food Nutrition

2 medium stalks celery, diced

2 medium yellow carrots, diced

1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 small red onion chopped

1/2 cup tomato paste

4 1/2 cups broth, your choice beef – chicken – vegetable

3/4 pound prosciutto cotto – about 2 slices 1/2 inch cut, cut into 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch squares

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons avocado oil

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil and minced garlic – sauté until fragrant.

adding vegetables to garlicNext add prepared onion – carrots and sweet potato and mix together.

adding lentils and tomato paste Next add rinsed lentils and mix in. Then add tomato paste and stir being sure ever lentil is coated.

adding brothAdd broth, place lid on pot and simmer 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked.

After 30 minutes there will be only about 1 cup or so of broth – drain and set aside – leave lentil mixture in soup pot.

warming avocado oil and pork fatIn a warm pan with avocado oil add some prosciutto fat with prepare prosciutto cotto and sauté in oil until meat is warmed.

We used refined high heat (to 550 degrees) avocado oil, which has no flavor, therefore not contaminating or changing the smoked flavor of the prosciutto cotto.

Remove meat and mix with lentil mixture.

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils - close upSpoon Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils to a platter and serve.

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Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasThe first time we used pasta Orecchiette was around 2009. We had seen a recipe in a food magazine using the pasta, so to the store we went. We had a hard time finding it, but our local co-op (sell’s all natural – organic foods) had the pasta. When we described the pasta (as we had forgotten the name) the sales lady new right away what we wanted. She referred to the pasta as little pope hats. Ever since Orechiette has become a staple in our pantry.

About.com talks on Italian food and describes Orechiette as a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, as orecchio in Italian means eat, and Orecchiette means little ears. The pasta is roughly 3/4 of an inch across, slightly domed, and the centers are thinner than the rim of the pasta. The pastas texture is soft in the middle and more chewy along the rim or outside of the pasta.

Barilla (store brand that sells Italian products) says that Orecchiette is the signature pasta of Puglia, describing Puglia as a humble farming land situated along the southeastern coast of Italy.

Here is a video posted to You-Tube of Italian women in Italy making fresh Orechiette pasta.
Now for our featured recipe: Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small shallots, chopped

3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed

12 ounces Orecchiette

Garnishes:

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest

cooking Mexican chorizoHeat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute, stirring often, until beginning to brown and smell fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo to pan and break up with a spoon, and cook meat until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

adding chickpeas to meat sauceNext add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to meat mixture and mix in. Next add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Next add the can of chickpeas, and mix in, cooking 2 minutes more to heat the chickpeas through.

adding orechiette to meat sauceMeanwhile, cook pasta according to packaged instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Next add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to meat sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta liquid as needed. You might use the whole cup, and possibly less.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas in the panServe pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasWe have had this for left overs a few times, and each time we add cilantro, cheese, and lemon zest. The zest adds great flavor to this dish. Be sure to use it.

For the side salad using candy cane beets, see our recipe here: Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.

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Gluten Free Penne with Smoked Bacon and Butternut Squash

Gluten Free Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Butternut squash and also refereed to butternut pumpkin in Australia and New Zealand, is a winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to pumpkin.

Butternut_squash

The value of the nutrient content increases when cooked

According to Specialty Produce the butternut squash was developed in Stow, Massachusetts in 1940 by Charles A. Leggette.

The squash is a member of the gourd family and is the most widely grown winter squash. In the United States, Florida is the largest squash-producer with California ranking second.

Butternut is rich in fiber, and low in calories. It also is a good source of minerals, including magnesium and potassium. Those who have asthma or breathing problems, this squash can help, because of its magnesium, and vitamins A and C content.

Medical studies since 1994 have reported that low magnesium intake is linked to asthma and chronic obstructive airways. Many studies also have noted that drugs used in the treatment of asthma causes loss of magnesium in the body (The Link Between An Asthma Attack and Magnesium).

Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, who authored the book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” states that magnesium has a calming effect on the muscles of the bronchial airways, as well as the whole body (Treating Asthma With Nutrition).

Let’s breath easier, and get that all over calming effect as we present our featured recipe: Gluten Free Penne with Smoked Bacon and Butternut Squash, and here is what you will need.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces, cooked in a steamer (optional to roast)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound gluten-free penne pasta

1 large yellow onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper corns

1/2 pound smoked bacon, cooked, but not crispy, your preference in flavor, we used a apple-bourbon smoked bacon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package instruction. Save one cup of the pasta water before draining pasta. Set aside.

sauteing onions Over medium heat in a large ceramic coated frying pain, add oil and diced onion, red pepper flakes and crushed pepper corns, and saute until onion are slightly browned, about 6 to 7 minutes.

adding squash and pastaNext add past, squash, and bacon. Mix until well incorporated. Next add cheese, and slowly add the reserved pasta water. The amount you add determines if you want the dish creamy or not.

Gluten Free Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked BaconPlate and serve.

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Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone Cheese

fresh from the oven Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheeseThe recipe we are featuring is made with a smoked bacon, a “Apple-Bourbon Smoked Bacon” to be exact. Yummy!!

Have you ever thought how flavors are smoked into the bacon? According to Bacon Wikia, smoked bacon is prepared using different types of wood chips or sawdust for different flavors, such as applewood gives the bacon a mild, fruity flavor. Oak and hickory wood produces a stronger, heartier flavor.

The apple-bourbon smoked bacon is made with applewood sawdust, bourbon whiskey, and brown sugar or coconut palm sugar.

smoking bacon

Photo Credit: Bacon Wikia

Turning our attention to Bacon Wikia again, they explain how you can smoke bacon at home, and I would say it is similar on a grander scale at a smoke house.

They say, “We like to cold-smoke the meat at a low temperature over a long period of time. This ensures that you get the maximum smoke penetration and gives you a rich color on the meat. Try to keep the temperature of the smoker between 80F and 100F. When you start going above this the surface of the meat will start to seal and the smoke will no longer penetrate the meat. Smoke the meat for about 8 hours, or until you are happy with the color” (BaconWiki).

Now for our featured recipe: FlatBread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone Cheese. We got our inspiration from a recipe we pinned to our Vegetable Recipe Ideas board on Pinterest (Link here to view our boards – Delectable Foods on Pinterest). But we made modifications to fit our taste. The original recipe does not include bacon, and requires a smoked paprika which we omitted. The original recipe requires to make a flatbread from scratch, but to save time we bought a ready made whole wheat flatbread from the Whole Foods Market.

Here is what you will need.

2 whole wheat flatbreads, roughly 7 3/4 inches X 10 1/4 inches

5 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 small shallot, finely minced

2 small zucchini, washed and patted dry

1/2 pound apple-bourbon smoked bacon

extra virgin olive oil

parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

prepared uncooked Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheeseCook bacon in a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon only until half done, about 3 to 4 minutes. remove from heat, and let cool. Using a knife or kitchen shears cut bacon into 1 inch slices.

In a medium bowl, mix the minced shallots with the mascarpone cheese. Place the flatbread on a cookie sheet, and spread the cheese mixture over the top of the bread, trying to get every square inch of the bread surface.

Next using a vegetable peeler, scatter ribbons over the top of the cheese mixture, covering the entire area. Next divide the cut bacon over the top of each flatbread.

Lightly drizzle with some olive oil, and  grate some parmesan cheese over the top. Grate as much or as little as you want.prepared uncooked close up of Flatbread with Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheesePut the cookie sheet in the heated oven, and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheeseRemove from the oven, and let cool for 3 minutes. Move flatbreads to a cutting board, and using a pizza slicer, slice each flatbread into 4 equal pieces. Plate and serve. The preparation will serve 2 to 4 persons. Just double the recipe to make more servings.

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Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce

Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce

All squash varieties are members of the Curcurbita family. They come in varying colors, textures, shapes, sizes, and a range of flavors.

The three main categories of the Curcurbita family are:
Curcurbita pepo– include but not limited too zucchini, summer squashes, acorn, and spaghetti squash
Curcurbita maxima– includes but not limited too: banana squash, and pumpkin
Curcurbita moschata– includes but not limited too: butternut squash, and calabaza

Squash is a low carbohydrate food, including a low glycemic index food, between 0 and 35. The low number indicates no spiking of insulin in the blood stream. Most squash have small amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, and including the B-vitamins. They also contain trace minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper.

Squash is great for heart health and every muscle of the body. Magnesium is great to help the muscles relax, preventing what is called charlie-horse or cramping of the muscles.

As for potassium, one half cup serving of Grey Squash as an example has 603 mg, raw zucchini has 459 mg, cooked has 194 mg, and baked Butternut squash has 289 mg.

Mexican Grey SquashThe squash we are using in our featured recipe is a hybrid of the zucchini squash, and is referred to in Mexico as the Mexican squash or the grey squash.

The grey squash has the same texture and flavor as the zucchini. Unlike the zucchini when harvested at a larger size, the grey squash tends to still have a tender skin.

Now for our featured recipe: Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce. The recipe is simple and easy, as it contains 3 ingredients as follows…

principle ingredients for Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat SauceYou can use any type of spaghetti sauce, but we chose to use a tomato base with cream and vodka included, 2 cups.

One pound of organic pork chorizo, which we purchased on sale at the Whole Foods Market, and 3 Mexican squash, which will make about 2 to 3 servings. Here we have a larger harvested Mexican squash given to us from a friends organic home garden.

makng squash pasta with a julienne peelerUsing a julienne peeler, run it from top to bottom all around the squash until you arrive to the seeds in the center. Set the squash pasta aside.

Pork ChorizoHeat a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of pastured unsalted butter, and when melted add the pork, and cook until done, about 10 minutes. remove from heat, and set aside.

cooking squash pasta in skillet In a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. When heated, add the stringed squash and cook for about 5 minutes. You want the oil to cling to the squash strings. If the oil clings then in turn the spaghetti sauce will cling to the squash pasta. Do not over cook the squash, you want a little crunch, and at the same time you want a fork to twirl it, the same as is done with traditional pasta.

sauce and chorizoRemove skillet from heat and transfer squash past to a serving platter. Return the skillet to the heat and add the spaghetti sauce and cooked pork chorizo, and mix together. Allow the heat to warm the meat sauce.

Mexican Squash Pasta with Chorizo Meat Sauce - 2

Remove meat sauce from heat and pour it over the squash pasta arranged on a serving platter. Serve with grated Italian cheese, and enjoy.

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