Guyanese: Pine Tarts

A friend of mine ‘returned home’ to get married in Guyana and a couple of our mutual friends joined her for the experience. For most of them, this was their first trip to Guyana; although of Caribbean descent themselves, I had to admit I was slightly nervous for them as Guyana is a very different experience to say Jamaica and Trinidad and so I was interested to hear their take on the country, especially as I hadn’t seen the country for over 10 years myself.

They all came back smiling I am pleased to say, not only for our friend whose wedding was beautiful and heart warming, but also for the love of the country. “Those Pine Tarts were so amazing!” recalled one of my friends, also the Chief Bridesmaid at the wedding. “And although I don’t eat a lot of meat, I really enjoyed the pepperpot stew”.

I was curious to hear how much Guyana had really developed since I last visited. When I was there, it felt very rural yet lively with friendly, approachable people and social events that brought out the whole community. But those Pine Tarts, yes I had to agree, are pretty good. My mother use to make these during the summer holidays once the school term was done and would sometimes pack them into our bags for summer play-scheme.

Pine tarts a very easy to make with either fresh or canned pineapple. The sweet pastry really holds the filling together and tastes just as good as the jam inside. So if you have time during the summer holidays, I would recommend setting aside an hour or two to make some of these tarts for the family. You won’t regret it.

Guyanese: Pine Tarts

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients: 

For the Pineapple Filling

425g Pineapple Chunks (or fresh pineapple chunks)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

For the Pastry

1/2 cup salted butter (soft)

1/2 cup of vegetable shortening

2 3/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg (egg wash)

3/4 cup ice cold water

Method

The filling

1. If you are using fresh pineapple, then peel and cut the pineapple into large chunks and transfer into a food blender, pulsate for a minute until you have small lumps. You want to then measure out 2 1/2 cups of pineapple from that to use in the filling.

2. If using pineapple from a can, take the fruit and half of the juice and pulsate in the blender until you have small lumps.

3. Place the fruit into a sauce pan with the remaining juice and the spices and sugar. Simmer slowly for 30 mins under a low to medium heat or until the mixture thickens to a jam like consistency. Keep stirring regularly to avoid it burning. When ready, remove from the heat and set aside to cool down completely.

The dough

4. Place the flour, butter, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix together until it forms a crumbly texture. Then little by little, add the cold water until you can form a dough. Knead the dough to a  smooth log (about a foot long), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for between 30 minutes and 4 hours before use. When you are ready to use it, leave the dough out the fridge for about 30 minutes to get to room temperature.

The assembly

5. Cut the log into 1 inch thick rounds, flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a 6″ circle (I used a plate).

6. Place 1 1/2 tablespoon of pineapple filling into the middle of the circle and brush the edges with egg wash.

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7. Fold the corners of the dough into the middle, to form a triangle. ensure the ends are sealed, you can use a fork to do this.

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8. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

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9. Bake in the oven (Gas Mark 5) for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

10. Serve hot or cold.

Spiced Walnut Butter

 

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If your anything like me, walnuts haven’t rated too highly on my ‘nut list’ either. But did you know that walnuts have the highest amount of omega 3- fatty acid of any nut? In other words it’s the all round hair, skin and nail food. Now does it sound a bit more appealing? Ok well I tried.

I still believe the walnut has the right to be released from the prison of banana breads and festive nut trail mixes; it has a hugely bold even bitter flavour, I agree, but when combined with sweet cinnamon and nutmeg, it seems to mellow down to a smooth pecan like taste. I say make the most of that trail mix and create the most irresistible butter you would have ever tasted. I’ve been enjoying it all week and feeling good!

This recipe can keep for up to 2 weeks if stored in an air tight glass jar in the fridge. This recipe makes just over a cup of walnut butter. Enjoy!

 

Spiced Walnut Butter

Ingredients

3 cups of raw walnuts
pinch of salt
40 mls Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2-3 tsp liquid coconut oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (350F). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Watch them carefully as you don’t want them to go brown. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, place the other ingredients and add the walnuts. Blend on a high speed until you have the consistency you want: crunchy or smooth butter. Taste the mixture and add more syrup or spice if desired.

Serve with warm toast or bagels.

Nutritional value of Spiced Walnut Butter.

Spiced Walnut Butter(2 tbsp)
Calories(Calories from fat) 258
Sodium 2 g
Total Fat 19 g
Potassium 42.8 mg
Saturated Fat 2 g
Total Carbs 17.4 g
Polyunsaturated 2 g
Dietary Fibre 3.2 g
Monounsaturated 3 g
Sugars 11.9 g
Protein 5 g
Zinc 5.5%
Calcium 4.8%
Manganese 33%
Iron 5% 9.3%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Vanilla Cardamom infused Mango w/ Honeyed Greek Yoghurt

 

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Greek Yoghurt has become my new obsession, especially now that I appreciate its health benefits a bit more. I have always been a lover of yoghurts: my family of 6 was split cleanly down the middle; 3 gulped it down by the gallons, the others couldn’t care less.

I experimented with soya yoghurts and even coconut ones for a while, the latter tasting mega delicious, but at £3 a small pot I couldn’t sustain it for too long. Maybe I’ll experiment a little with making my own…who knows. But in the meantime, this recipe works just fine. If you want to preserve some of the nutrition from the mangoes, you might only want to poach it gently, remove the fruit and then allow the liquid to simmer to a syrup like consistency.

 

Vanilla Cardamom infused Mango w/ Honeyed Greek Yoghurt

 

Ingredients:

1 Ripe Mangoes – cut into large chunks (1 cups)

1 tbsp honey

1 Vanilla Pod

1 cup water

1 cardamom pod – crushed

 

1 cup Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp honey

 

Method

Take the yoghurt and honey, blend together and set aside or place in the fridge to keep cool.

Take the remainder of the ingredients and place them in a pot. Simmer the fruit for 8-10 minutes. You can remove the fruit after 3 minutes to allow the liquid to thicken. Once you have the desired consistency remove the cardamom pod and transfer the fruit to a bowl to cool before serving with the yoghurt.

 

Nutritional Value of Mango w/ Honeyed Greek Yoghurt

Mango Greek Yoghurt Honey(2 tbsp)
Calories(Calories from fat) 107 100 120
Sodium 3 mg 65 mg 1 mg
Total Fat
Potassium 257 mg
Saturated Fat
Total Carbs 28 g 7 g 17 g
Polyunsaturated
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Monounsaturated
Sugars 24 g 7 g 16 g
Protein 1 g 18 g
Vitamin A 25%
Calcium 2% 20%
Vitamin C 76%
Iron 5% 1%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

 

Coconut Lentils w/ Honey Roasted Salmon

 

 

It’s with sadness that I have to announce that this recipe will be the final act in the ‘Beat the Bloat’ series. It’s been really special guys, I have loved the research and creating these recipes, I have learnt so much about correct food combinations and clean eating, all without losing out on taste and all within a reasonable budget.

I am working on some other food projects even as we speak, so if you don’t hear from me in the next few days it’s because I’m planning and experimenting away! All of these recipes have many more benefits to your health and well-being more than simply getting into those pair of jeans you bought a year ago, although that has its place too!

I hope the recipes have more than just inspired you…what would be truly amazing is if you tried making one of them and really liked it –  a lot! That would bring a smile to my face, your tummy would also be happy too!

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Honey roasted salmon. I love smoked honey roasted salmon and there is always a way to artificially re-create that flavour; but I didn’t want to add too many artificial condiments to this recipe.

I love the colour and texture of this dish, it really is one for sharing. Be sure not to over cook the salmon; make it the last thing that you cook and try not to re-heat it, otherwise it tastes all chewy.

Then bask in the sunshine on your plate and enjoy a fork full of honey roasted goodness…until next time!

 

Coconut Lentils w/ Honey Roasted Salmon

Ingredients

For the Salmon:

2 Salmon fillets

Thumb size piece of fresh ginger (finely grated)

1 Tbsp Honey

Juice of half a lime

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 tbsp Soya Sauce

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 Himalayan Pink Salt

2 garlic cloves crushed

1/4 white onion (finely grated)

 

For the Lentils:

1 cup Puy Lentils

3 cups water

1 vegetable stock cube/ jelly

1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper

1/2 tbsp Curry paste

1/2 Onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 tsp tomato paste

1 tbsp of coconut cream (from a solid block) or 2 tbsp of coconut milk

Pinch of salt

2 Kaffir leaves

 

For the Roasted Vegetables:

2 Sweet Peppers (one red, yellow)

1/2 White Onion

1 garlic crushed

5 Chestnut Brown Mushrooms (cut into quarters)

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 carrot cut into chunks

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp of Olive Oil.

 

Handful of Kale (steamed)

 

Method

Preparation:

Pre-heat the Oven (Gas Mark 6)

1. Chop up the vegetables for roasting (excluding the Kale and peppers) and place them in a bowl (without the oil).

2. Prepare the marinade for the Salmon. Once you have cleaned the fish marinade it with the seasoning and transfer to the fridge.

 

Cooking:

3. Take the Lentils, water and vegetable stock and transfer to a pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for 20-5 mins until the water is reduced and the lentils are firm but cooked.

4. You may roast the sweet peppers with the other vegetables or you can do so over an open flame as I did: take each of the peppers and rest it over a open flame on the cooker, turning the pepper as the skin begins to blacken.

5. When you have finished the first pepper, transfer it to a sealed container (or bowl with a plate over it), the steam will help to soften the skin to make it easier to peel off. Do the same with the second one.

6. Now take the baking tray to roast the vegetables in, add the oil and garlic and transfer to the hot oven. Bring out the tray when the pan is heated, you should be able to add the vegetables to a sizzling pan and return it to the oven for 10 minutes. Near the end, you can add the peppers so that all the flavours from the vegetables are soaked up.

7. When the lentils are cooked, take a separate pot and fry the onions, garlic, pepper and curry paste. Then add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute.

8. Then straining the lentils but keeping the water, transfer the lentils to the pot of onions and stir adding all the lentils in and stirring completely.

9. Then add the water from the lentils and coconut milk. Season to taste and simmer for 5 minutes leaving a little sauce in the stew.

10. Take the vegetables out the oven and throw in the Salmon for 10 minutes or until the salmon is cooked.

11. To steam the Kale, simply place it on top of the lentil stew and cover with the pot cover; the steam from the lentils will cook the Kale – it should be a nice bright green and slightly firm.

 

Plate up:

12. Place the Kale on the plate first with a sprinkle of lentils, then add some of the roasted vegetables and keep layering. Then flake the Salmon on top of the plate.

Delicious Peanut Flax Granola

Rome was not built in a day, neither was Granola, or so it seemed. The secret to good granola is to cook it slow and low!

I learn from my mistakes very quickly! The first time I made this, I put the oven on so high, the granola cooked to a crisp; rather than throw all my hard work away, I grimaced and ate the bitter cereal the rest of the week. Never again.

Top tip: after 20 minutes in the oven, take it out and turn the mixture, making sure to push the granola from the edges inward toward the middle. Then place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove and stir it one final time before returning it to the oven for the last 10 minutes: a total of 40 minutes!

Long wait but the reward is so great; your breakfasts (or even snacks) will leave you feeling so satisfied. You can thank me later…enjoy!

Peanut Flax Granola

Ingredients

* Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees

3 1/2 – 4 cups Whole rolled porridge oats

1/2 cup pecan nuts – roughly chopped

1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped

1/4 cup golden flax seeds

2 tbsp almond meal

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raisins (or your choice of dried fruit)

1/4 cup peanut butter,

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tsps vanilla extract

1 tbsp almond extract

1 tbsp cinnamon powder

Pinch of salt

Method: 

1. Combine all dry ingredients (minus the raisins and brown sugar) in a large mixing bowl

2. Combine all wet ingredients plus the brown sugar in a small sauce pan and stir occasionally until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

3. Pour hot mixture slowly over oat mixture and stir until the mixture is moist and the liquid is evenly distributed throughout.

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4. Spread mixture evenly onto heavy baking tray and place on middle rack in heated oven.

Total baking time is 40 minutes – Remove from the oven and place a clean, heavy pan on top of the granola while it’s cooling.

Now you can break apart, add to a large bowl and add the raisins or any other dried fruit. – Keep in air tight container.

Crispy Sweet Potato Chips…Every time!

I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy crispy sweet potato chips until now. Sweet Potato has a very high water content which is why it can’t naturally achieve the crispy status of a regular chip…without some help from its little friend corn starch.

The key to achieving ultimate crispiness is to eliminate moisture, so make sure you pat the potato sticks dry before adding the corn starch and seasoning and more or less toss them straight into the oven soon after that with only a drizzle of oil.

Crispy Sweet Potato Chips


Method

* Pre-heat oven to 425 F. (Gas Mark 7)

1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch sticks leaving the skin on.

2.  Soak your fries in cold water for around 45 minutes to an hour for maximum crispiness! This draws  out the excess starch from the sweet potatoes, helping them to cook all the way through better so they are crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside without burning.

3. Drain the fries and allow them to dry on kitchen towel absorbing all the excess moisture.

4. Mix together cornstarch, rosemary, garlic salt  and salt. Add the fries to the mix and  seal the container and shake!

5. Place fries on baking sheet.

6. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt

7. Spread chips out on baking tray. Make sure they are not touching to achieve ultimate crispness.

8.Bake for 15 minutes. Turn over if necessary. Bake for a further 5 minutes.

Recipe inspired by Southern Fatty 

One Pot Series: Guyanese Metemgee

 

The One Pot Series: If you want to spend less time washing dishes and more time enjoying tasty food and company, then read on!

Coming from a family of six hungry bellies with large appetites, The One Pot was essential for our survival. I really don’t know how my parents managed without it. From Cook-up Rice to Metemgee, it just made economic sense; It settled many an argument, it brought order out of chaos, it quieted the storm. “You don’t like Cassava? Well there’s sweet potato..” The way Mum would organise the provision before my brother could stab me in the hand with his fork, his true target being the last piece of dumpling, was genius.  And then there’s the sauce…my word. My word. It can only be compared to liquid gold: the pot would be clean and gleaming when we were done.

Metemgee  is a Guyanese Creole stew of sorts made with dumplings, cassava, yam, plantains, okra and a hot peppery coconut milk sauce. It’s normally served with salt fish or crispy fried fish of your choice. The immense amount of sauce that the Metem provides means you really don’t need to prepare a separate gravy with the fish.

You can add any number of root vegetables to it: potatoes, edoes, white or yellow yam. It’s up to you. Just be sure you maintain a thick rich sauce throughout, the dumplings once added will help with that.

It’s always best to cook this dish in stages as some things cook quicker than others; the Okra and Plantain for example should be cooked last and separately as they soften quickly and you want it to keep its shape.

And finally don’t judge a book by its cover. When this dish begins to cool down, it may look like a hot mess, but the smell from the stew is so rich, you won’t be turning your nose up for too long! As it’s coconut milk the dish won’t last beyond 2 days before turning sour, so be sure to only cook want you know you will eat over the weekend!

Guyanese: Metemgee

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients:

2 Sweet Potatoes

1 whole Cassava (or 5 frozen pieces)

2 Ripe Plantain

6 Okra Fingers

2 Corn on Cob

1 Medium Onion – chopped finely

3 Garlic – crushed

3-4 Fresh Thyme sprigs or good pinch of dried Thyme

1 Whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper

2 spring onions, sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp tomato paste

1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger

1 1/2 cups Coconut Milk

Dash of Maggi all-purpose liquid seasoning

1 tsp Garam Masala

1 Vegetable Stock cube

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Corns

1 1/2 cup Water

Oil (to fry)

 

For the Dumplings

2 cups of plain flour

1 pinch of salt

1 tbsp butter/ margarine

1 cup milk

 

Method:

1. Peel all the root vegetables and slice length ways into 7″ long chunks. Try not to slice them too thinly as they may disintegrate whilst cooking. Place the vegetables in a large bowl filled with cold water.

Make the dumpling by mixing all the ingredients listed under ‘dumplings’ together. Shape the dumplings as you wish and refrigerate for later.

2. Cut the ripe plantain into 3 chunks (with the skin on) and place in a separate pot of water to boil.

3. Trim the Okra ‘top and tail’ and set aside.

4. Fry the onions, garlic and spring onions in a large, deep pot for about 3 minutes before adding the tomato paste and ginger. Allow it to fry until the onions have softened.

5. Add Garam masala and stir for 1 minute before adding the coconut milk. Allow to simmer for 1 minute before adding the thyme.

6. Add the water and scotch bonnet pepper to the pot. Then place the root vegetables in the pot. Allow pot to simmer for 10 minutes before removing the pepper.

7. Add the vegetable stock cube and season further to taste.

8. In the meantime, in another pot, boil the plantain. This should take no more than 15 minutes. strain the water and allow it to cool.

9. Allow the pot to simmer until the potatoes start to soften. Then add the dumpling pieces and okra, placing them gently at the top of the stew, be careful not to stir the pot too much.

10. Season to taste.

 

Guyanese: Pepperpot

If there was ever a dish which made me immensely proud of my Guyanese heritage, it would be this one. Pepperpot, the National dish of Guyana. Simply the bitter-sweetest, warmest, stickiest pot of stew you will ever taste. It has a taste like none other, and its all down to one main ingredient: Cassareep.

Cassareep was not as accessible in the 80’s when I was growing up as it is now; and even here, only certain West Indian shops sell it. I don’t know where we found the thick black molasses mixture when I was a child, but it was cherished like liquid black gold in our home: It would sit at the back of the cupboard, in a used Pepsi Bottle silently, waiting for the 25 December. I recall it being sealed with masking tape around its mouth and neck, as if smuggled out of the country, put on a boat destined for the Motherland…only to sit at the back of someone’s cupboard for 11 1/2 months of the year.

“Cass-a-reep” I was told by my mother as she would stir the pot of generous dark meat, was invented by the Native Amerindian’s of Guyana. They would extract the juice from bitter Cassava root which is in itself poisonous to eat if not cooked properly, and then boil, and boil and boil the juice down until eventually what remained was a thick black syrup. For more information on how Cassareep is made, follow this link.

“It always tastes better the next day…” she would add smiling.  Music to my ears. Because the Amerindian’s had no refrigeration,  Cassareep’s  natural preserving properties kept the dish going for days on end (that is why pepperpot can be left on the stove, re-heated daily for days and not spoil).

Pepperpot is traditionally eaten with thick, white home-made bread and made with several types of meat. For this recipe, I limited myself to Ox-tail, but feel free to combine it with Mutton if you wish.

If you would like this recipe – just drop me an e-mail: lovelorettaskitchen@gmail.com

 

 

 

Soursop Punch

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There use to be a time in my life when I was conscious that I was beginning to sound like my Mum.

Last week was definitely one of them.

No Soursop today?” I said in deep frustration to the man at the stall in Ridley Market. “No sorry darlin’ none today; nothing came off the ship from St Lucia or Jamaica...” In that split second my imagination took me to the shores of St Lucia, picturing Mr Market Stall man waiting at the beach front with his trolly waiting for this precious fruit to come in. I smiled at myself and walked away, a little disheartened.

Last month there was no Soursop either, this time it was because it was being sold for the “price of Gold” his friend had told me. The way I hounded these guys, week after week watching, lingering, pretending to only pass by, hoping to see a pile of fresh prickly green skinned fruit smiling back at me…it was beyond an obsession, I was a evolving into my mother.

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Why I bothered to walk the 500 yards to the end of the market last week when I could have caught the bus straight to work, I don’t know. But something told me, give this market stall another try.

At that time in the morning the stalls are just setting up for the day: I could see the old turkish man screwing on a handle which had dropped off a lid he was selling; then there was that tall black guy with the skull cap, dark blue overalls and mono-brow that met in the middle; he greeted me every morning like we knew each other well.

Then came my former hairdresser nestled behind the man who sold hats, scarves and ladies lingerie whom she resented because his stall blocked the entrance to her shop.

Finally, the Man in the Market. I passed his shop slowly and carefully scanned the goods on display: right in the centre were my little babies: Fresh Green Prickly Soursop – I took the first one my hands and eyes laid on to and proceeded to the counter. Someone was already there: “You’re gonna make some sweet punch wit dat!” The man he was serving remarked – I laughed and said yes…some sweet punch indeed.

 

Soursop Punch

 

Ingredients

Pulp of Sour Sop Fruit (large fruit size = 4 – 5 cups of pulp)

1 can (397 g) of condensed milk

3 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp Angostura bitters

2-3 cups cold water

2 cups boiling hot water

 

Method

Cut the sour sop fruit length ways down the middle into two halves. You will find a thick stalk running down the middle of the fruit, remove this with a knife.

Scoop the white flesh and seeds out from the shell and place in a bowl. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the fruit and stir the mixture to release some of the seeds from the pulp. remove whatever seeds you can by hand this way. Then with your fingers peel the black seeds away from the fruit and discard. This may take 10 minutes to do. Keep all the remaining fruit in the bowl.

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Take the remaining fruit and pass it through a large sieve with a bowl underneath to catch the pulp, this will help to remove any seeds that you may have missed. You may have a lot of fresh remaining in the sieve, transfer this all to the bowl underneath.

Take the pulp and transfer it to a blender with 1/2 cup of cold water if needed. Blend the pulp to a smooth pulp. Then again using the sieve, pass the pulp through the sieve, gently pushing the pulp through. Now you can discard any skin that remains in the sieve.

You should be left with a off white thick pulp. If you don’t wish to use all of it, squeeze some lime or lemon into the remaining pulp, and place in the fridge in a sealed container.

Otherwise, transfer half of the pulp and half of the condensed milk, 1 cup of cold water and nutmeg to the blender. Blend the mixture and transfer to a jug. Then proceed to blend the remaining pulp and milk together. You can combine the two into the one jug; and add more water to achieve the consistency you wish.

Finish by adding a dash of Angostura Bitters to the punch. Serve chilled.

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