Seafood of the Week – Cockles

November 5, 2013 at 11:45 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Live specimens of Cerastoderma edule

Live specimens of Cerastoderma edule

Cockle is the common name for a group of (mostly) small, edible, saltwater clams, marine bivalve molluscs in the family Cardiidae. Various species of cockles live in sandy, sheltered beaches throughout the world. The distinctive rounded shells of cockles are bilaterally symmetrical, and are heart-shaped when viewed from the end. Numerous radial ribs occur in most but not all genera. For an exception, see the genus Laevicardium, the egg cockles, which have very smooth shells.
The mantle has three apertures (inhalant, exhalant, and pedal) for siphoning water and for the foot to protrude. Cockles typically burrow using the foot, and feed by filtering plankton from the surrounding water. Cockles are capable of “jumping” by bending and straightening the foot. As is the case in many bivalves, cockles display gonochorism (the sex of an individual varies according to conditions), and some species reach maturity quickly.
Confusingly, the common name “cockle” is also given (by seafood sellers) to a number of other small, edible marine bivalves which have a somewhat similar shape and sculpture, but are in other families such as the Veneridae (Venus clams) and the Arcidae (ark clams). Cockles in the family Cardiidae are sometimes known as “true cockles” to distinguish them from these other species.

 

 
There are more than 200 living species of cockles, with many more fossil forms.
The common cockle, Cerastoderma edule, is widely distributed around the coastlines of Northern Europe, with a range extending west to Ireland, the Barents Sea in the north, Norway in the east, and as far south as Senegal.
The dog cockle, Glycymeris glycymeris, has a similar range and habitat to the common cockle, but is unrelated. It is inedible due to its toughness when cooked, although a process is being developed to solve this.
The blood cockle, Anadara granosa (not related to the true cockles, instead in the family Arcidae) is extensively cultured from southern Korea to Malaysia.
An example group of true cockles that have shells which are completely smooth, without ribs, is the genus Laevicardium. These are often known as egg cockles.

 

 

Cockles Grilled

Cockles Grilled

Cockles are a popular type of edible shellfish in both Eastern and Western cooking. They are collected by raking them from the sands at low tide. However, collecting cockles is hard work and, as seen from the Morecambe Bay disaster, in which 23 illegal immigrants died, can be dangerous if local tidal conditions are not carefully watched. In England and Wales, Magna Carta grants every citizen the right to collect up to eight pounds of cockles from the foreshore. However, pickers wishing to collect more than eight pounds are deemed to be engaging in commercial fishing and are required to obtain a permit from the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.
Cockles are sold freshly cooked as a snack in the United Kingdom, particularly in those parts of the British coastline where cockles are abundant. Boiled, then seasoned with malt vinegar and white pepper, they can be bought from seafood stalls, which also often have for sale mussels, whelks, jellied eels, crabs and shrimps. Cockles are also available pickled in jars, and more recently, have been sold in sealed packets (with vinegar) containing a plastic two-pronged fork. A meal of cockles fried with bacon, served with laver bread, is known as a traditional Welsh breakfast.
Boiled cockles (sometimes grilled) are sold at many hawker centers in Southeast Asia, and are used in laksa, char kway teow and steamboat. They are called kerang in Malay and see hum in Hokkien.
In Japan, Japanese Egg Cockle Leavicardium laevigatum is used to create torigai sushi.
A study conducted in England in the early 1980s showed a correlation between the consumption of cockles, presumed to be incorrectly processed, and an elevated local occurrence of hepatitis.
Cockles are an effective bait for a wide variety of sea fishes. The folk song “Molly Malone” is also known as “Cockles and Mussels” because the title character’s sale of the two foods is referenced in the song’s refrain. The shells of cockles are mentioned in the English nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary“. Cockles are also eaten by the indigenous peoples of North America.

 

 

 

Trick or Treat

October 31, 2013 at 9:26 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Two children trick-or-treating on Halloween

Two children trick-or-treating on Halloween

Trick-or-treating or guising is a customary practice for children on Halloween in many countries. Children in costumes travel from house to house in order to ask for treats such as candy (or, in some cultures, money) with the question “Trick or treat?“. The “trick” is a (usually idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given to them.
In North America, trick-or-treating has been a customary Halloween tradition since the late 1940s, starting in Anoka, Minnesota. It typically happens between 5:30pm and 9:30pm[1] on October 31, although some municipalities choose other dates. Homeowners wishing to participate in it sometimes decorate their private entrances with artificial spider webs, plastic skeletons and jack-o-lanterns. Some rather reluctant homeowners would simply leave the candy in bowls on the porch, others might be more participative and would even ask an effort from the children in order to provide them with candy. In the more recent years, however, the practice has spread to almost any house within a neighborhood being visited by children, including senior residences and condominiums.
The tradition of going from door to door receiving food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”, where children and poor people would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes. Guising—children disguised in costumes going from door to door for food and coins—also predates trick or treat, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895, where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. While going from door to door in disguise has remained popular among Scots and Irish, the North American custom of saying “trick or treat” has recently become common. The activity is prevalent in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Puerto Rico, and northwestern and central Mexico. In the latter, this practice is called calaverita (Spanish for “little skull”), and instead of “trick or treat”, the children ask ¿me da mi calaverita? (“can you give me my little skull?”); where a calaverita is a small skull made of sugar or chocolate.

 

 
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of “puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas.” The custom of wearing costumes and masks at Halloween goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.
Guising at Halloween in Scotland is recorded in 1895, where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going “guising” around the neighborhood.
American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of the holiday in the US; The Book of Hallowe’en (1919), and references souling in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America”;
The taste in Hallowe’en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn’s poem Hallowe’en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe’en is out of fashion now.
Kelley lived in Lynn, Massachusetts, a town with 4,500 Irish immigrants, 1,900 English immigrants, and 700 Scottish immigrants in 1920. In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; “Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Hallowe’en customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries”.
While the first reference to “guising” in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.
The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, from Blackie, Alberta:
Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the start of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. The editor of a collection of over 3,000 vintage Halloween postcards writes, “There are cards which mention the custom [of trick-or-treating] or show children in costumes at the doors, but as far as we can tell they were printed later than the 1920s and more than likely even the 1930s. Tricksters of various sorts are shown on the early postcards, but not the means of appeasing them”. Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.

 

 
Almost all pre-1940 uses of the term “trick-or-treat” are from the western United States and Canada. Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.
Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children’s magazines Jack and Jill and Children’s Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. Trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip in 1951. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, and Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show. In 1953 UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.
Although some popular histories of Halloween have characterized trick-or-treating as an adult invention to rechannel Halloween activities away from vandalism, there are very few records supporting it. Des Moines, Iowa is the only area known to have a record of trick-or-treating being used to deter crime. Elsewhere, adults, as reported in newspapers from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, typically saw it as a form of extortion, with reactions ranging from bemused indulgence to anger. Likewise, as portrayed on radio shows, children would have to explain what trick-or-treating was to puzzled adults, and not the other way around. Sometimes even the children protested: for Halloween 1948, members of the Madison Square Boys Club in New York City carried a parade banner that read “American Boys Don’t Beg.” The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of adults in the United States planned to give out confectionery to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children, teenagers, and young adults planned to go trick-or-treating or participating in other Halloween activities. In 2008, Halloween candy, costumes and other related products accounted for $5.77 billion in revenue.

 

 
Some organizations around the US sponsor a “Trunk-or-Treat” on Halloween night (or on occasion, a day immediately preceding Halloween), where trick-or-treating is done from parked car to parked car in a local parking lot, often at a church house. The trunk of one’s car is opened, displaying candy, and often sometimes games and decorations. Concerned parents see it as safer for their children,[citation needed] while other parents see it as an easier alternative to walking the neighborhood with their kids. Opponents frown upon the Trunk-or-Treat as violation of the tradition of walking door-to-door on Halloween, and as exclusion of children that do not belong to these groups and thus are not informed about them. Some have called for more city or community group-sponsored Trunk-or-Treats, so they can be more inclusive. Many neighborhoods see a large reduction in door-to-door trick-or-treating because of a competing Trunk-or-Treat. These have become increasingly popular over the years especially in conservative states like Utah, and are catching on around Midwest and Southern states.
Churches are expanding on the original idea of trunk or treat by adding food, music, games and rides. Their goal is to reach more of the community with an alternative to trick or treat. It not only has become a way to provide an alternative for children in the church but to the entire community. They have also found that it opens up opportunities to invite parents and children to other events or services going on at the church. A number of churches have started handing out Halloween Christian tracts or other information on the church.

 

 

Magazine advertisement in 1962

Magazine advertisement in 1962

In Portugal children go from house to house in All Saints day and All Souls Day, carrying pumpkin carved lanterns called coca, asking every one they see for Pão-por-Deus singing rimes where they remind people why they are begging, saying “[…]It is for me and for you, and to give to the deceased who are dead and buried[…]” or “[…]It is to share with your deceased […]” If a door is not open or the children don’t get anything, they end their singing saying “[…]In this house smells like lard, here must live someone deceased”. In the Azores the bread given to the children takes the shape of the top of a skull. The tradition of pão-por-Deus was already recorded in the 15th century. After this ritual begging, takes place the Magusto and big bonfires are lit with the “firewood of the souls”. The young people play around smothering their faces with the ashes. The ritual begging for the deceased used to take place all over the year as in several regions the dead, those who were dear, were expected to arrive and take part in the major celebrations like Christmas and a plate with food or a seat at the table was always left for them.
In some parts of Canada, children sometimes say “Halloween apples” instead of “trick or treat.” This probably originated when the toffee apple was a popular type of candy. Apple-giving in much of Canada, however, has been taboo since the 1960s when stories (of almost certainly questionable authenticity) appeared of razors hidden inside Halloween apples; parents began to check over their children’s “loot” for safety before allowing them to eat it. In Quebec, children also go door to door on Halloween. However, in French speaking neighbourhoods, instead of “Trick or treat?”, they will simply say “Halloween”, though in tradition it used to be La charité s’il-vous-plaît (“Charity, please”).
In some parts of Ohio, Iowa, Massachusetts and other states, the night designated for trick-or-treating is referred to as Beggars Night, and in some communities it is held on a night prior to Halloween itself.

In Sweden children dress up as witches and go trick-or-treating on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) while Danish children dress up in various attires and go trick-or-treating on Fastelavn (or the next day, Shrove Monday). In Norway “trick-or-treat” is called “knask eller knep”, which means almost the same thing, although with the word order reversed, and the practice is quite common among children, who come dressed up to people’s doors asking for, mainly, candy. Many Norwegians prepare for the event by consciously buying a small stock of sweets prior to it, to come in handy should any kids come knocking on the door, which is very probable in most areas. The Easter witch tradition is done on Palm Sunday in Finland. In parts of Flanders and some parts of the Netherlands and most areas of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, children go to houses with home made beet lanterns or with paper lanterns (which can hold a candle or electronic light), singing songs about St. Martin on St. Martin’s Day (the 11th of November), in return for treats. In Northern Germany and Southern Denmark children dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating on New Year’s Eve in a tradition called “Rummelpott”.
Children of the St. Louis, Missouri area are expected to perform a joke, usually a simple Halloween-themed pun or riddle, before receiving any candy; this “trick” earns the “treat”. Children in Des Moines, Iowa also tell jokes or otherwise perform before receiving their treat. Des Moines trick-or-treating is also unusual in that it is actually done the night before Halloween, known locally as “Beggars’ Night”.
In many areas of the United States it is frowned upon for teenagers to trick-or-treat. In fact, several US cities have banned trick-or-treaters older than 12 from participating in the event.

 

 

 

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

October 25, 2013 at 10:06 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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If you lost the knob to a pot lid, don’t throw out the pot. Place a screw into the hole, with the thread side up, then attach a cork to it.

Pumpkin Carving

October 22, 2013 at 9:36 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I gathered some info on Pumpkin Carving for everyone. Below are a little history on Pumpkin carving and links to several web sites that have some great tips and “How to carve that Jack O Lantren”. Happy Halloween Everyone!

 

 
The term jack-o’-lantern is in origin a term for the visual phenomenon ignis fatuus (lit., “foolish fire”) known as a will-o’-the-wisp in English folklore. Used especially in East Anglia, its earliest known use dates to the 1660s. The term “will-o’-the-wisp” uses “wisp” (a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch) and the proper name “Will”: thus, “Will-of-the-torch.” The term jack-o’-lantern is of the same construction: “Jack of [the] lantern.

 

 

A jack-o'-lantern, made from a pumpkin, lit from within by a candle.

A jack-o’-lantern, made from a pumpkin, lit from within by a candle.

The origin of Jack o’ Lantern carving is uncertain. The carving of vegetables has been a common practice in many parts of the world, with Gourds being the earliest plant species domesticated by humans c. 10,000 years ago, primarily for their carving potential. Gourds were used to carve lanterns by the Maori over 700 years ago, with the Māori word for Gourd ‘ue also used to describe a lampshade. But the innovation of carving a Jack-O-Lantern specifically to celebrate Halloween was first recorded in the U.S., with the earliest known reference occurring in 1866.[citation needed] There is a common belief that its carving came to the U.S. from Ireland, where turnips, mangelwurzel or beets were supposedly used. According to historian Ronald Hutton, in the 19th century, Halloween guisers in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands commonly used jack-o’-lanterns made from turnips and mangelwurzels. They were “often carved with grotesque faces to represent spirits or goblins”. In these areas, 31 October–1 November was known as Samhain and it was seen as a time when spirits or fairies were particularly active. Hutton says that they were also used at Halloween in Somerset (see Punkie Night) during the 19th century.[7] Christopher Hill also writes that “jack-o’-lanterns were carved out of turnips or squashes and were literally used as lanterns to guide guisers on All Hallows’ Eve.” Some claim that the Jack-o’-lanterns originated with All Saints’ Day (1 November)/All Souls’ Day (2 November) and represented Christian souls in purgatory. Bettina Arnold writes that they were sometimes set on windowsills to keep the harmful spirits out of one’s home. Despite these claims there has yet to be evidence provided by historians that turnips were carved into lanterns in Ireland during Halloween, prior to the practice being present in the U.S.[citation needed] An 1834 account of a Halloween night at a house in Ireland makes no mention of any jack-o’-lantern or carved vegetables acting as lanterns, nor does Robert Burns mention them in his famous poem “Halloween”. Thomas Johnson Westropp does not mention them in Folklore of Clare (1910) and the “internationally accepted authority on Irish folk tradition” Seán Ó Súilleabháin does not mention them in Irish Folk Custom and Belief (1967).
There is however evidence that turnips were used to carve what was called a “Hoberdy’s Lantern” in Worcestershire, England at the end of the 18th century. The folklorist Jabez Allies recalls how
“ In my juvenile days I remember to have seen peasant boys make, what they called a ” Hoberdy’s Lantern,” by hollowing out a turnip, and cutting eyes, nose, and mouth therein, in the true moon-like style ; and having lighted it up by inserting the stump of a candle, they used to place it upon a hedge to frighten unwary travellers in the night. ”

 

 
The story of the Jack-O’-lantern comes in many variants and is similar to the story of Will-o’-the-wisp retold in different forms across Western Europe, with variations being present in the folklore of Norway, Sweden, England, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Italy and Spain. An old Irish folk tale from the mid-19th Century tells of Stingy Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer who uses a cross to trap the Devil. One story says that Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn’t get down. Another tale says that Jack put a key in the Devil’s pocket while he was suspended upside-down.
Another version of the story says that Jack was getting chased by some villagers from whom he had stolen, when he met the Devil, who claimed it was time for him to die. However, the thief stalled his death by tempting the Devil with a chance to bedevil the church-going villagers chasing him. Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin with which he would pay for the stolen goods (the Devil could take on any shape he wanted); later, when the coin/Devil disappeared, the Christian villagers would fight over who had stolen it. The Devil agreed to this plan. He turned himself into a silver coin and jumped into Jack’s wallet, only to find himself next to a cross Jack had also picked up in the village. Jack had closed the wallet tight, and the cross stripped the Devil of his powers; and so he was trapped.
In both folktales, Jack only lets the Devil go when he agrees never to take his soul. After a while the thief died, as all living things do. Of course, his life had been too sinful for Jack to go to heaven; however, the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from hell as well. Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he had no light, and the Devil mockingly tossed him an ember from the flames of hell, that would never burn out. Jack carved out one of his turnips (which were his favorite food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as “Jack of the Lantern”, or Jack-o’-lantern.
Jack-o-lanterns were also a way of protecting your home against the Undead. Superstitious people used them specifically to ward away vampires. They thought this because it was said that the Jack-o-lantern’s light was a way of identifying vampires and, once their identity was known, they would give up their hunt for you.

 

 
Sections of the pumpkin are cut out to make holes, often depicting a face, which may be either cheerful, scary, or comical. More complex carvings are becoming more commonly seen. Popular figures, symbols, and logos are some that can now be seen used on pumpkins. A variety of tools can be used to carve and hollow out the gourd, ranging from simple knives and spoons to specialized instruments, typically sold in holiday sections of North American grocery stores. Printed stencils can be used as a guide for increasingly complex designs. After carving, a light source (traditionally a candle) is placed inside the pumpkin and the top is put back into place. The light is normally inserted to illuminate the design from the inside and add an extra measure of spookiness. Sometimes a chimney is carved, too. It is possible to create surprisingly artistic designs, be they simple or intricate in nature.

 

 

http://www.extremepumpkins.com/

http://www.marthastewart.com/275573/pumpkin-carving-and-decorating-ideas/@center/276965/halloween

http://www.bhg.com/halloween/pumpkin-carving/

http://www.abcya.com/pumpkin_carving.htm

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

October 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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When trying to remove stubborn food debris from a knife, don’t use a scrubber, which can ruin the finish. Instead, rub a cork over the knife, then wash it in warm water.

Saint Patrick’s Day

March 14, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Posted in Food | 1 Comment
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Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig (The Festival of Patrick); Ulster-Scots: Saunt Petherick’sDay) is a cultural and religious holiday

Saint Patrick's Day parade on lower Magazine Street, New Orleans.

celebrated on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century, and has gradually become a secular celebration of Irish culture in general.

The day is generally characterised by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire[6] and the lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating, and drinking alcohol, which is often proscribed during the rest of the season.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora, especially in places such as Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is probably the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.

Originally, the color associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the color green and its association with Saint Patrick’s day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase “the wearing of the green”, meaning to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing, derives from a song of the same name.

St. Patrick’s Day, although not a legal holiday anywhere in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognized and celebrated throughout the

The Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day festivities.

country. It is primarily celebrated as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, feasting, copious consumption of alcohol, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late eighteenth century, prior to the American Revolution.

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