Buttermilk | Parsley, Sage and Sweet

Skinny Cheesecake for SRC, New Weight Watchers Fresh Meals, and Bad Boy First Love Part 7

March 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Fruit, Healthy, Rainbow, SRC | 60 Comments
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For this months Secret Recipe Club, I decided to keep it skinny, since I also happen to be reviewing a few new Weight Watchers Fresh Meals in this post.  When I saw this Cheesecake with Sour Cream at Cook Book of Trial and Error, the blog I was assigned for March, I knew I had to try it.  Look at how creamy and decadent it looks!  Would you believe it has almost 5 times less calories than a full fat cheesecake?  Trust me, you’d never know it.  It’s lighter in texture, more like a a mix between a ricotta cheesecake and full fat cheesecake, but the flavor is so close to fatty the cheesecake, I was pleasantly surprised.


I was a bit devious, though.  I had a few questions about the recipe and since it’s supposed to be a ‘secret’ when you have someone’s blog, I left an innocuous comment asking those questions.  When she quickly responded with the answers (less butter and crumbs in lieu of powder), she asked me to let her know how it turns out.  I told I would definitely let her know – 100%.  Now, I’m letting her know – It turned out amazing and everyone who tried it cannot believe it’s a skinny cheesecake!

Then again, I didn’t post as Guest or Anonymous, so I’m sure she put two and two together and figured it outAlso, I tried to emulate the cinnamon zigzag in her photo, freehand, but it didn’t quite work out – so excuse the strip that looks like dirt. 

That said, please be sure to visit her blog, she’s got some really fantastic recipes!

On another skinny note..

Remember last September when I reviewed Weight Watchers Fresh Meals and Deli Salads?  Well, Catherine Bowen Brophy of Greencore/Weight Watchers sent me 5 new fresh meals to try and tell you about.  Like I mentioned in the previous review, I like Weight Watchers because it’s a sensible way to diet and the food is delicious and filling.  The meals I received, in order from favorite to least favorite, are;

Photos above courtesy Weight Watchers

Beef Steak Tips with Potatoes and Vegetables - This was my favorite of the 5.  I wanted to lick the carton clean when I was finished.  20 minutes later I realized I was full and satisfied.  This is what I love about Weight Watchers.

Southwestern Style Turkey Chili - I loved the heartiness and flavor of this chili, but it needed a bit more spice.  But, again, it filled me up, so that’s a gold star.

Teryaki Chicken - The sauce was really good, and it tasted pretty close to what you might get at a good Japanese restaurant.  However, it needed salt and teryaki should never,ever need salt because it’s made with soy sauce.

Chicken Curry - Again, like with the chili, I felt it needed more kick, but I love really hot and spicy food, so maybe it’s just me.  Nice flavor and the sauce was silky.

Wild Alaskan Salmon - This was the least of my favorites.  The salmon was bland, dry and the texture not pleasing at all, but, what do you excpect from pre-frozen packaged fish?  That’s a tough one to pull off. I wanted to dredge each side in cajun seasoning and give it a quick sear, THEN, smother it with some kind of sauce, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? They need to rework this one.

You can always add extra spice to kick up the heat, so I’m giving these 5 new Fresh Meals a 7.5 out of 10, the main caveat being the salmon.  You won’t get 5-star caliber food here, but you will get tasty food that fills you up, without deprivation . My favorite diet plan out there, by far.

Now it’s time for Part 7 of Bad Boy First Love.  Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, and Part Six is HERE.

I kept walking to the left side of the pier and all the way to the opposite side of where the Tilt-A-Whirl was located.   I was hoping they would all go on some rides to give me more time to work up some courage.  If I even set foot on any ride, apple wine and the slice of pizza I had would be whipping through the air – a torrential downpour of cheese, sauce and hooch with 95 mph winds.


But, NOO, no one was  setting foot on any ride until my mission was complete.  They were all voyeurs, rubberneckers, my plight was more exciting to them than the roller coaster with the almost 90 degree angle drop.

Great, who was going to hold my hair back when the inevitable purge came? No one, they’d be whooping it up on the Centrifuge. then find me lying in a pool of love lost when they got off.

I was now walking very slow, looking down at my fingernails, picking at a hangnail.  My hands were trembling slightly, my mouth dry as cotton.  Soon I was surrounded by my ‘troop’, words of encouragement coming at me from every angle, but the words were like shrapnel at this point..I wanted it to stop.

“Thanks, guys, but I’ll be okay.” I said as I tried to swallow the fear that reintroduced itself to my gullet .   Yeah right.  Will our new hometown besties attend my funeral?  What would they say?  We knew Lisa for only 30 minutes, but she was a really great girl!

Soon we were facing the Tilt-A-Whirl diagonally as we rounded the circle.  Hmm..I never knew the pier was circular when you walked completely around it instead of right to left, left to right, straight through, like we always did in the past.  Uninteresting little factoidIt’s funny how you notice such insignificant things when you’re about to do or take on something nerve-wracking and/or possibly life changing.

We all stopped and looked towards the ride.  I saw some tall guy with a mustache running from car to car closing them, then going back into what looked to be a DJ/ride operating booth, then back out again to open the car doors when the ride was over.  HA!  He wasn’t working tonight!  I was free until tomorrow! I relaxed and decided maybe I could go on some rides after all.


Then I saw him.  He came out of the booth to say something to the tall guy.  They laughed and went back in.  My heart started fluttering.  I turned to one of my friends…

“Can you give me a squirt?”  I was referring to breath spray, being the breath psycho I am.  Plus, my mouth was in a serious drought. I may as well have eaten sand with a sawdust chaser.

Before I knew it, I was being primped.  My squirt friend started futzing with my hair, while another friend scribbled lip gloss all over my lips.  Well, at least my lips would remain moist and supple upon rejection, closely followed by ejection.  Soon a pocket mirror was in my face.  Okay, I looked presentable, well, I tried to convince myself I did.

The cacophony started again..

“You go girl!! He is going to fall in love with you all over again!”  Huh?  He never said he loved me..but nice sentiment, new hometown bestie girlfriend.

Yeah, I was still cranky and now more scared then I’d ever been in my life, barring the wait for my first roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia when I was 12 on some teen travel camp trip.  But that didn’t involve my heart, just my head...just my head remaining in one piece, if I was thrown out of the car.

The stench of pot was soon in my face, I mean, Mr. Words of Wisdom, the guy who coerced me into this with that one simple, but true statement.

“He’s gonna go nuts when he sees you..I can feel it.”  OK, he’s cool as a cucumber, not the type who goes nuts, but nice try new hometown bestie guy.

I looked to my left to see one of the local sisters making out with her new boyfriend from upstate NY.  I bet your parents would never make you leave your guy with no word at 4 am.  Keep on kissing..I pray that’s me on this vacation, with Dreamboat.

I started walking towards the ride – then looked back.  There they were..all 16 of them, standing and watching, along with a few fist pumps and shouts.

‘Yaay, keep going, Lisa!’

“Don’t turn around!  Forge ahead!”

Now I was walking with my head down, picking at my hangnail again. It started bleeding.  Great.  I turned back to look again.  Now there were like 20 people standing there.  They must have wondered what this large group was looking at.

I could hear it now..

“Hey, man..what’s going on here?”

One of the new hometown male besties would probably answer – since he knew me SO well.

“See that chick in the ratty red t-shirt and ripped shorts walking toward the Tilt-A-Whirl?  She’s going to be blowing chunks in about 5 minutes after she talks to some guy!  Keep watching – it’s gonna be good!”

I instinctively sucked my hangnail finger.  The coppery taste of blood was not pleasant, but it was a distraction and better than grossing him out with a bloody digit.

As I got closer, I surveyed the area around the ride.  Of course there were girls standing around to catch a glimpse of him in hopes he’d catch a glimpse of them.  It was the girls standing alone that worried me, especially one in particular, a really cute platinum blonde standing with both hands clasped behind her arched back, obviously to accentuate her large chest.  Pure, unblemished, confidence.  She might be his girlfriend. *Stop it, Lisa, just do what you need to do or if she isn’t already, she just might become his girlfriend!* I tried to reason with myself.


My stomach started to gurgle.  I could feel the apple wine and pizza strapping on their chutes for instant ejection in case my plane was hit.  I walked past her, and I could feel her eyes give me the once over. I looked back briefly at my friends.  Now there were more people standing there.  What the…?  Had my story spread to everyone on the pier?  I was waiting for some kind of announcement on the loud speaker/intercom system;

Gather ’round the Tilt-A-Whirl, ALL, have we got a show for you!!!

I turned away quickly and stepped up to the side of the Tilt-A-Whirl near the DJ booth as the cars whipped around furiously.  Since it was kind of high up..I had to stand on my tippy toes a bit.  The tall guy with the mustache looked over at me and smiled.  *NO, not you!* I thought, as I motioned toward Dreamboat with my hangnail finger.

He nudged Dreamboat to get his attention.  Dreamboat was looking down at something.  His head rose in what felt like slow motion (to me, anyway), he looked at his mustachioed amigo, and then me.  Our eyes met, those blue, blue eyes were scorching and beautiful, even from that distance.  I shivered and my legs started to gel.

Welcome back JELL-O legs, you’ve been missed.

He stood up rapidly and came rushing out the side of the booth, right over to me.  It was mere seconds.  He got down on one knee, his arm resting up on the railing to steady himself from the rocking and vibration of the ride.  For a few seconds, I couldn’t take my eyes off the underside of his naturally muscled, creamy smooth bicep.  I wanted to kiss it.

He looked deep into my eyes and in the softest, sweetest tone, one that always turned me to goo the previous summer, he asked the million dollar question..

“What happened to you last summer?”

I started to speak, but no words were coming out.  I had to clear my throat and compose myself.

“I..I..my mother…umm..we had to leave suddenly,  Wait, I mean, my father made us leave….”

I was stammering.

He never took his eyes off of mine for one second as I tried to get my voice box working properly.  How did he do that?  I bet he’d won quite a few staring contests in his life.  I was awful at them, always the first to laugh and look away.  I felt searing heat building.  Dammit, the second biggest blush of my life was coming on.  NOOOO.


“Umm..they made us leave at 4 in the morning because…..”

He interrupted me, still not taking his eyes off of mine.  He looked so amazing. Sparks were flying everywhere – I think.  I know I felt them.

“What are you doing tonight?  Do you have plans?” He asked, shouting over the loud music, with an urgency that blew my mind.

OK, I think that might mean he’s  feeling them too – but don’t get ahead of yourself, Lisa!

“NO..no plans at all.” Suddenly I could talk!

“Want to meet me after work?  Unless you want me to pick you up some place?”

Alrighty, maybe one small step ahead.

“I’ll meet you here..no problem at all!”  I said as I started fussing with my hair, smoothing it down, hoping it stayed that way. 

“Meet me at the carousel at midnight?” He asked, his eyes still never having left mine.

“Of course!” I said sweetly, but loud enough so he could also hear me over the music – but, this was going on inside my head –> *OMG – YESS!!!* (remember, I’m a teenager)

He flashed me his gorgeous smile, but it was kind of shy, different.  I loved it. I blushed more (STOP!) and smiled back. I was beaming and no doubt it showed.  Time stopped, but then the damn ride stopped, he had to go back to work.

“See you in a few hours” He said as he stood up, pushing his pretty hair back with one hand.

“Okay!”  I exclaimed.  I overdid it..I screeched. Cringe.

I desperately needed someone to glue me to the damn ground because I swear to god, I felt like I was about to fly away.  I was as high as a kite, as high as one of twelve, crazy, colorful, high-tech kites this family would bring to the beach every day at 5 pm the summer before, and fly obsessively.  I’d never seen kites fly so high in my life.  I remember saying to my friend;

“I guess someone told them to go fly a kite and they took it seriously.” and then we laughed.

I was so high, I was Lisa in the Sky with Diamonds Dreamboat.  Who needs alcohol or pot when you just might have a Dreamboat?

I walked back to my crowd of friends, temporary friends, and complete strangers, who were starting to disperse, thankfully. I tried to remain neutral faced, I didn’t want to let on anything until I reached them.  Of course that didn’t work, because my friends knew me too well, they knew my ‘try to hide the excitement’ face.  They were already smiling and getting ready for a hug fest.  Of course, I didn’t want it to happen there, so I walked right past them to the other side of the pier.  Then I let loose..

“He asked me to meet him after work tonight!!!” I screamed, jumping up and down.

During the hug fest and the numerous “I told you so’s”, I realized my eyes were welling up.  Next –  a few tears were running down my face.  Wow, could those be happy tears?  This was the first time I’d ever experienced them.  I’d heard of them, seen it happen to others, but could never understand how anyone could cry when they were happy.  If I’d had a vile on hand, I think I would have bottled them – sort of like a parent keeps the clippings of a their child’s first haircut, or baby teeth.

“Awww, Lis..you’re so happy you’re crying!  Look she’s crying!” said one of my friends, the one whom I was the closest with.

What was happening to me?  The effect Dreamboat had on me was crazy.  This wasn’t just puppy love, this was serious.

It was 10:30 pm, I had an hour and a half to go and wanted to go back to our luxury pad and freshen up a bit..not change or do my hair, just brush my teeth again, maybe run a razor with some lotion up and down my legs to nip any stubble.  He used to occasionally put his hand on my knee while driving.  I couldn’t chance it.

The single local pal sister and one of my real besties volunteered to go with me while the rest stayed to play on the rides.  I bid adieu to my now hometown acquaintances, unless we ran into them again and became besties once more, and off we went.

I barely remember the walk back because I wasn’t walking..I was floating again.  I didn’t even feel the boardwalk.

I didn’t even feel the splinter that shot up into my foot, embedding deep – initially.

Half of my freshening up period was spent crying out as my friend tried and finally succeeded in removing it.  A bloody hangnail, a splinter, what was next?  A small chunk of meteorite to the head on the walk to meet him?

Please excuse the fact that I don’t know why I’m here, and I can’t remember your name, I had a little celestial accident.


The walk to meet him was just as exhilarating as that first walk to meet him the summer before.  Same deal..the salt air blowing my already messy hair all over the place, the scent of popcorn and cotton candy increasing as we got closer, the bright lights and music getting louder.  We were now at the carousel, but he wasn’t there.  I looked around, getting more and more nervous as the minutes ticked by.

What if I my sudden disappearance last year hurt him so much that this was his revenge?  Maybe I looked so hideous with my rat’s nest hair, he changed his mind about meeting me? I knew I should have waited until the next night when I had a tan and looked nicer!

Teenage insecurities.

It was now 10 after midnight.

Then I saw him, behind the closing gate of the pier, talking closely to the cute platinum/bleach blonde with the tremendous confidence and tremendous boobies.  She had her hand on his arm.  OH.NO.  I felt the apple wine start to creep up my esophagus.

Keep checking back for Part 8, coming soon!

Before I get to the cheesecake recipe, I’d like to thank my friend, Mandy, from What the Fruitcake?! - for converting the measurements in this recipe from metrics to US for me.  Also, to see all the delicious dishes my fellow SRC’ers made from their assigned blogs, click on the blue frog below.


Skinny Sour Cream Topped Cheesecake
Recipe from Cooking with Trial and Error, via her friend’s Mom, with my revisions for an 8-inch springform pan
Approximately 2950 calories, 12 servings, 245 calories per serving

Crust
4.6 ounces animal or graham cracker crumbs (I forgot to measure after I weighed, but I will do that later with remaining crumbs)
3 to 5 tablespoons melted butter (it could get too greasy with 5, so start with 3, which worked for me)

Cheesecake Filling
1 3/4 cups Farmers Cheese *
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Buttermilk or Yogurt *
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar

Topping
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar

*  The Farmer’s Cheese plus buttermilk amounts can be substituted with all Quark or Greek Yogurt – 500 grams total.  Next time I’m going to make yogurt cheese with the Greek yogurt, and try this recipe with that instead of the farmer’s cheese and buttermilk.  I’m pretty sure it will be closer in texture to full fat cheesecake since it’s creamy.  Strain about 600 to 700 grams low-fat or regular Greek Yogurt so you end up with 500 grams yogurt cheese, which is about 2 cups.

UPDATE - I made it with the yogurt cheese and it’s exactly like a full-fat creamy cheesecake.  If you use cottage or farmer’s cheese, you get more of a ricotta cheesecake, which is also delicious, of course.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the animal or graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a clean bowl and drizzle in the melted butter, stirring, until it holds together somewhat.  As mentioned above, you shouldn’t need all 5 tablespoons, the cheesecake filling will bind it together when baking.

2. Press the crumbs into a greased 9-inch cake pan – just the bottom. Use the bottom of a glass to really pack it in.  Place in the freezer while you make the filling. You can also use a 5”x7” square Pyrex pan, if you want to make cheese cake squares.  *I used an 8-inch springform pan, which doubled the baking time.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling until uniform and silky. Remove the graham cracker crust from the freezer, and pour the filling on top of it.

3. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 350 degreees F and bake for 15 minutes.

4. Combine the sour cream with the sugar. After the cheesecake has baked for 15 minutes at 350F, remove it from the oven and spread the sour cream on top evenly – be gentle, as it will be slightly jiggly in the middle. Bake for another 5 minutes.

5. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.  I topped my mini cheesecakes (I cut them out of the leftover large cheesecake with a round biscuit cutter) with a melange of cut up fruits and honey.

* As i mentioned above, I used a 7 1/2 to  8-inch round springform pan.  The baking time was 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, then 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees F, and another 10 minutes with the sour cream topping.

I was not compensated monetarily for my Weight Watchers Fresh Meals review, only sent the meals free of charge.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Skinny Cheesecake made with Cottage or Yogurt Cheese.  Super creamy and delicious - you'd never know it was only 245 calories a slice!

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Berries and Buttermilk Puddings and my First GIVEAWAY!

February 3, 2010 at 10:56 am | Posted in Dessert, Giveaway, Puddings | 57 Comments
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You know, I’ve had this blog going for almost 2 years, and I have yet to present a giveaway.  I feel left out, I feel cheap, I feel like the kid in the lunchroom with the sandwich that will no one will trade for.  OK, that’s overreacting to the 100th degree.  Let’s just say that I have tons and tons of goodies, most of which I’ll never use, that I’d like to share with you all.

Well, I’ll get to that part after I touch on these luscious, decadent buttermilk puddings with a strawberry-red wine sauce, and fresh, succulent berries.  The pudding sounds really fattening, doesn’t it?  I mean, some perceive buttermilk to be loaded with butter – it’s not.   It’s the sour liquid that remains after the butterfat has been removed from whole milk or cream by churning when making butter.  However, most commercial buttermilk is now produced by other means, mainly cultured –  aka cow’s milk with lactic acid bacteria added to it.

Alright enough with the scientific mishmash.  This pudding tastes like cheesecake – I mean it, creamy, rich cheesecake pudding, but again..it’s not..it’s actually low in fat, and even lower if you use low fat milk!  I had half a quart of buttermilk left from some muffins I made (coming soon) and I’m so bad when it comes to buttermilk – a certified buttermilk ‘waster’.  I buy it for one recipe (yes, I know, milk plus lemon juice or vinegar, but sometimes I feel like using something that is what it is..lol), then it sits in the back of my fridge until it becomes it’s own life form..bacteria babies multiplying like bunny rabbits, then starting their own families, and so on and so forth.

When I dare to look, it’s actually moving and chunky - one sniff and well, I don’t think I need to elaborate.  Down the drain it goes..with a good shower of steaming hot water to melt the chunky parts.  Have I grossed anyone out yet?  It wasn’t my intention, but if you ask anyone who knows me, I’m not one to hold back when it comes to saying what’s on my mind..chunky bits or not.

                   Darn shiny glasses and fake lighting – couldn’t avoid the glare.

With that said, this time I wasn’t going to waste the damn buttermilk.  I surfed to epicurious.com, typed in buttermilk, and this was the first recipe that came up.  Usually, I need to sift for a while, but nope, this was right up my alley, especially after all the rich holiday food still clogging every artery, organ, pore etc.  I was not disappointed – you have to try these, and it’s truly, truly nowhere near as fattening as it tastes.  INDULGE!

Now to the fun part – my GIVEAWAY – YAY!  I’m starting slow, as I don’t want to overdo it since it’s my first one, and I’m NOT Pioneer Woman (obviously).  This isn’t stuff sent to me by a company because they want a product plug (not that there’s anything wrong with that) to a bagillion readers, (Kitchen Aid Mixers!  She gives away Kitchen Aid mixers to her readers – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!), this is from my humble, little kitchen, just something I want to give away because, well, friends and family give me a lot of food and kitchen related stuff as gifts, and as mentioned above, I’ll never use it all…so who better to pass it on to than my fellow food fanatics?

To put it simply, most of my giveaways will be akin to you coming over and while we chat, eat, cook/bake, play Twister, whatever, I keep piling stuff on you

“Here, take this, you’ll love it!”. ..”Oh, look, 10 different kinds of flavored oils, 9 of which I’ll never use..take them..please!”.

Granted, everything is brand spanking new..I’m not one of those types.   I once worked with a woman who actually saved half a sub sandwich she didn’t eat (2 days old), a little nibble off the corner, and brought it into work to pawn off on someone because she didn’t like to wate food.  If Wordpress had a disgusted/WTH?? emoticon, you’d see it right HERE.  That was the look on all of our faces when she decided we were no different than her dog.

OK, onto the haul.  I have enough panko breadcrumbs to bread enough food to feed almost all of Manhattan..seriously – SO, one, lucky reader..please take these!  Oh, here’s the cool part..they’re flavored panko, fusion panko!  We’ve got South West panko, Garlic panko, and Teriyaki panko..a three pack - NO mustard or plain.  Just leave a comment and I’ll use that random integer thingamahjig to choose a winner.  The winner will be announced one week from today.  By the way, this is not just limited to the USA..I will ship anywhere in the world.  Fair is fair, and whatever number comes up is where it goes!

Berries and Buttermilk Puddings
Gourmet Magazine via Epicrurious.com

For buttermilk puddings:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup whole milk, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For sauce:
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoon sugar
1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest
1 (3-inch) strip orange zest
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 cup quartered strawberries
2 cups mixed berries

Equipment: 4 (6-to 8-ounce) bowls or wide glasses

DIRECTIONS FOR PUDDINGS:
1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl and let soften 1 minute.

2. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small heavy saucepan and add pod. Add remaining 3/4 cup milk and sugar and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture to hot milk mixture, stirring until dissolved. Quick- chill in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until cold but not thickened, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in buttermilk, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large glass measure, discarding solids. Pour into bowls and chill until set, at least 8 hours.

DIRECTIONS FOR SAUCE:
1. Bring wine, water, sugar, zests, and bay leaf to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.

2. Add strawberries and simmer 5 minutes. Discard zests and bay leaf, then purée strawberry mixture in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Force through clean fine-mesh sieve and discard solids.

3. Chill sauce, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 1 hour.

To serve:
Spoon sauce over puddings and top with remaining berries.


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