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Food cravings are like wizards.

 

They appear out of nowhere (POOF!) and swirl a wand about (WHOOSH!) and say to you – You need a gooey, dark chocolate cake in your life.

 

It looks like this, the wizard says. Exactly like this.

 
Chocolate lava cake 3
 

You have to make one this very minute, the wizard says. No, I don’t care that it’s 11 pm and you’re in your pyjamas. You want this NOW.

 

All that’s left to do is give into the wizard’s command. He looks like Gandalf okay? Can you say no that face?

 
Gandalf
 

So I put together this gooey, delicious dark chocolate batter and pop it in the oven.

 
Chocolate lava cake 1
 

Look how you can tell the centre is still soft underneath once its ready? 😍

 
Chocolate lava cake 2
 

This lava cake has to be eaten the second it comes out of the oven. When you cut into it and see the warm and intensely chocolate-ty centre ooze out, you will know everything is right with the world.

 
Chocolate lava cake 5
 

The wizard knows my soul.

 

Chocolate Lava Cake for two

 

Recipe adapted from: Buzzfeed’s Christine Byrne

 

Prep time: 12 mins
Cook time: 11 mins, plus cooling
Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

2 tbsp butter (unsalted and at room temperature), plus a bit more to grease the ramekins
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus a bit more for the ramekins
115 g dark chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 tbsp flour, sifted
pinch of salt
a couple drops of vanilla extract
icing sugar to dust (optional)

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200º C. Grease two small ramekins with butter and then scatter some caster sugar into each bowl, turning the ramekin around as you do, so that the base and sides are well covered. Tip the ramekin over once done, and throw away any sugar that falls out.
2. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave in 2-3 bursts of 30 seconds each, stirring well between each burst, until completely melted.
3. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl with the sugar. Cream into a paste using an electric mixer and then add the eggs. Whisk for a minute until everything combines, then add the flour, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk again until well combined.
4. Using a spatula, fold about a third of the melted chocolate into the batter. Slowly add the rest of the chocolate and keep folding until you have a uniform and smooth batter. Pour into the prepared ramekins and place on a baking tray. Bake for about 11 minutes, or until the edges of the cake begin to come away from the ramekins. Leave to rest on the counter for about 5 minutes and then flip onto serving plates. Dust with icing sugar to decorate if you wish, and serve immediately.

 
Chocolate lava cake 4
 

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I’ve moved continents!

 

I never thought I’d do it – move so far from family and friends and everyone I know and love. But sometimes you gotta take the plunge, right? (Tell me I’m right.)

 

It’s a big, big change – incredibly fun and incredibly difficult at the same time.

 

When I got to New Jersey early last month, it was cold. I mean seriously cold.

 

I didn’t want to step out of the house because my eyes would water and I was scared it would turn into icicles and I’d have shards of ice in my eyes and I’d be blind forever. (I’m not over-dramatic AT ALL. Can you tell?)

 

I missed the sun and my family and everything warm and familiar so much it hurt my insides.

 

But then after a few weeks of staying in, I decided that I’ve had enough. I needed some light and air and people.

 

So grudgingly I put on several layers, took off all expectation and set out on a walk.

 

Then I saw this – and it was love at first sight.

 

Skyline

 

 

And slowly, just like that, the cold wasn’t so cold anymore. I could feel the warmth on my shoulders and a gentle light in my eyes.

 

I explored beautiful parks filled with gorgeous dogs.

 

Dog Park

 

Ate cupcakes I’ve only read about for the longest time.

 

Magnolia

 

Even made some of my own at home :)

 

Homemade cupcakes

 

Shopped for all kinds of furniture and slowly watched our house transform into a warm and welcoming home.

 

Furniture shopping

 

Baked my first cake here! (Have you noticed how birthday cake smiles are the best kind of smiles?)

 

Birthday cake

 

Had the most fun it is humanly possible to have in a museum.

 

Museum

 

Indulged in long, lazy brunches with many drinks, and even more laughter.

 

Brunch

 

Gazed at the most beautiful tulips and wondered how they could possibly be real.

 

Tulips

 

Ate ice-cream from an ice-cream truck and felt like a child again.

 

Icecream

 

Stared wide-eyed at sights I’ve seen a million times in the movies.

 

NY

 

Chanced upon things from home that made me fuzzy inside.

 

Gulab jamun

 

Walked around in the sunlight with the handsomest man in town.

 

Sunnies

 

And then there was this.

 

Steak 12

 

The best steak I’ve ever eaten and cooked.

 

Something has to be said about the meat, particularly beef, that’s available here. If you buy the right stuff, you will be able to taste the quality.

 

The recipe came from a friend who actually tutored me through the process while I cooked it. It was the very talented, rather funny and mighty cute Madhu Menon.

 

It all began with some very, very good meat.

 

Steak 2

 

Just look at the marbling on that.

 

Steak 3

 

A good steak doesn’t need much, but it definitely needs aromatics and fat. Here are the aromatics.

 

Steak 4

 

And here’s the fat!

 

Steak 5

 

Also needed – a heavy cast-iron skillet that works your biceps each time you pick it up.

 

Steak 6

 

Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to give this beauty a good massage.

 

Steak 7

 

Drop it in the smokin’ hot pan.

 

Steak 8

 

Then some quick searing on both sides.

 

Steak 9

 

Throw in the aromatics and keep flipping.

 

Steak 10

 

Rest it a while – poor thing’s been flipping in a hot pan for ya!

 

Steak 11

 

And just look – a perfect medium-rare.

 

Steak 1

 

Serve with a fresh arugula salad. Yum!

 

Steak 13

 

Here’s the more detailed recipe:

 

Dry-aged Ribeye and Arugula salad

 

Recipe from: Madhu Menon

 

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins, plus resting time
Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

approx. 1 lb dry-aged boneless rib-eye steak
salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to season
1 tbsp tallow or butter
2 tbsp unsalted butter
5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
fresh rosemary, bruised

 

For the Arugula salad

 

1 packet fresh baby arugula leaves
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

 

Method:

 

1. Take the steak out of the freezer and place in the fridge 45 minutes before you want to start cooking. Once you’re ready to cook, take the steak out of the fridge. Put the cast-iron skillet on a high heat and get it smoking. Season your steak with salt and pepper generously and massage it into the meat on both sides.
2. Add the tallow to the hot skillet and then place the steak in the pan – you should hear a good loud sizzle. After about a minute and a half, lift one corner to see if it’s brown. If yes, then flip over and do the same on the the other side for another minute and half. You should have a brown crust.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, flipping every 2 minutes (6 flips in all!). After the first 3 flips, add the butter, garlic, and rosemary. As the aromatic butter melts, use a spoon to scoop it up and pour it back on the steak, basting both sides of the steak.
4. I like my steak medium-rare, so this is when I took it off the heat. Keep it on for a couple more minutes if you like yours more done. Rest the steak on a plate for about 5 minutes.
5. For the salad, mix the lemon juice, honey, and oil and season. Pour over the arugula and toss. Cut the steak and serve with the juices from the pan and the salad.

 

This dish is proof that the best food comes from good quality ingredients and non-fussy cooking.

 

Also, it shows me that good food will always be a comfort in times of unfamiliarity and sadness. It will be your ray of warmth in the cold.

 

I’ve always said food is magical. I know this is true – because it always makes things better :)

 

Change is always hard but it’s impossible to have new adventures without them. I hope you will join me in this new journey – it promises to be mighty fun :)

 

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Hello! No, I’m not dead. I haven’t been abducted. Aliens haven’t beamed me back to my home planet. Yet.


Something did happen to me though, that will adequately explain my long absence.


Something rather exciting.


It involved beautiful red and white flowers.


Red and white flowers


A Cathedral in all its finery.


Cathedral in its finery


Friends from near and far.


Friends from near and far


All looking utterly fabulous.


Friends from near and far 2


A night of crazy dancing.


Night of crazy dancing


A puppy that didn’t let me go.


Puppy


My best girls all dressed up and gorgeous.


My best girls


A brother who killed the dance floor.


Brother


A mother who held on tight when I needed her the most.


Mother


A father who lit up the room with his smile.


Father


Some babies who looked cute enough to eat.


Babies 1


Like seriously, look at this one!


Baby 2


A magical, magical mini cupcake tower.


Cupcake tower


An adorable vintage car.


Vintage car


A sermon no one will easily forget.


Sermon


A choir that moved us to tears.


Choir


Old friends.


Old friends


And new.


New friends


A walk to remember.


Walk


And this wonderful man.


Man


Have you guessed yet?


I got married! :D


Got married 1


Got married 2


It’s been such an incredible experience, such an amazing time and everyone involved just made it the most memorable event ever for us.


10450312_10155128247780576_5129311685681884098_o


Does that adequately explain my absence?


Okay okay congratulations and all that, but where are the cupcakes we came here for, I hear you ask.


Here they are!


DSC01406


I made these sinful, boozy Amarula cupcakes with adorable sugar moustaches adorning them :)


DSC01403


Why moustaches?


Because they’re dedicated to my husband who is rockin’ a pretty marvellous beard right now :)


Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 9.14.37 pm


The cakes aren’t too sweet, but have a hint of the creamy Amarula, while the buttercream frosting is loaded with the stuff so you can really taste the delicious South African liqueur.


DSC01418


For those who aren’t familiar, Amarula is cream liqueur made from the fruit of the African Marula tree, which incidentally elephants love to eat (how cute!) and it’s similar in taste and texture to the more well-known Baileys Irish Cream.


Here’s how to make them :)


Amarula cupcakes


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
Makes: 6


Ingredients:


60 g flour, sifted
60 g ground sugar, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
60 g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp warm milk
4-5 tbsp Amarula cream
sugar decorations (optional)


For the Amarula frosting


60 g butter, softened
100 g icing sugar, sifted (plus more if needed)
5-6 tbsp Amarula cream (depending on consistency desired)


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C and line a 6-hole cupcake tray with paper liners. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add the butter, vanilla extract, egg, milk and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the Amarula cream and mix throughly. Spoon into the cupcake liners.
2. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.
3. For the frosting, mix the ingredients together, adding the Amarula a little at a time until you have a fluffy frosting. Add more icing sugar to thicken if needed.
4. Pipe or cover the cooled cupcakes with frosting and top with a sugar decoration if you like.


DSC01407


Thank you dear readers, for staying. I am back now. And I’m not leaving.


Yours,
Mrs Culinarystorm


PS- All the professional wedding pictures were taken by Kuntal and Nat. Check them out – they’re pretty awesome :)

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Life can be stressful.


That’s why God gave us cake.


Like this one.


Chocolate rum cake 1


He also gave us goofy friends who say silly things and make us laugh even when everything is miserable. And then all you want to do is feed them cake :)


Like this one.


Manasvi


Sometimes things in our lives are spiralling out of control.
Or things are not going the way you want them to.
Or hey, you’re unhappy about something and it’s all you can think about.
Been there, done that.


But you know what’s a billion times better than dwelling on those sad thoughts?


Doing something for you. Just for you.


A little pick-me-up or a stress-buster, and having some fun while you’re at it.


Here’s 10 things to do for yourself to feel better right this minute.


1. Cuddle with a puppy. Stick your face in the soft furriness and cover his face with smoochies. How about this one?


Simba


2. Call an old friend. Talk about monkeys, fitness, philosophy or food. Whatever you fancy- those are just a few things I talk to my oldest friend about.


best friends


3. Stand in front of the mirror. Let your hair down. And dance to this song. (I just did. And I can’t stop.)



4. Grab a cup of tea, get under the covers and drown yourself in a good book. I recommend this or this.


5. Go get some sunshine and breeze. Everywhere has someplace quiet and beautiful, but if you’re in Singapore like me, nothing beats the Botanical Gardens and this stunning trail.


6. If you have a funny dad like mine, (most people do right?) send him a message and then grab your stomach laughing for the next 5 minutes. Real examples below:


Funny Dad texts 1


Funny Dad texts 2


7. Go be a badass at the gym. Nothing feels like a problem when you’re snatching a heavy bar over your head. Like seriously. If you’re in Singapore come hangout with these super fun people at CrossFit Firecity.


crossfit


8. Write. About anything. Let that pen hit paper and you’ll see things tumbling out making you feel better. Not convinced? Read this.


9. Sleep it out. Sleep makes everything calmer and clearer. Stay in bed all day. It’s okay to be lazy sometimes. Really, it is.


sleep


10. Bake this cake. Boom. Life is better.


Chocolate rum cake 2


Flour-less Chocolate and Rum Cake


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Serves: 8-10


Ingredients:


180 g dark chocolate (the best you can find)
120 g butter (salted), plus a little extra for greasing
120 g caster sugar
4 eggs
11/2 tsp vanilla extract
60 g cocoa, sifted
100 ml dark rum
cherries to garnish (optional)


For the glaze


100 g dark chocolate
50 g butter
60 ml dark rum


Ingredients


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 190º C. Melt the chocolate and butter together over a low flame, stirring until both melt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the sugar and stir in well.
2. Crack the eggs in one at a time, making sure to mix well and fully incorporating each before adding the next.
3. Add the vanilla, cocoa and rum and stir well until everything comes together in a loose batter. Pour into a greased 9-inch round tin and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
4. For the glaze, melt the chocolate and butter together, and remove from the flame to cool. Stir in the rum.
5. This is a soft cake so make sure it is completely cool before you turn it out onto a plate or it may break. Placing it in the fridge for a few minutes before turning out usually helps. Once transferred onto a plate, pour the glaze over and top with cherries if you like.


Chocolate rum cake 3


This cake reminds you to be nice to yourself. Be kind. Things can get hard sometimes, but more often than not, they get better.


Spoil yourself a little. Because you’re amazing. And never for a minute think you’re alone.


In the end you’ll see, we’re all sitting across each other at a giant table, eating cake and laughing together :)


Chocolate rum cake 4


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So Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Again.


Hello star struck couples.
Hi everything red.
And hey there, strawberries and chocolate – get in my face already.


Here’s where I am on the romantic front.


Fridge


But, since I’m a total sucker for love and a big fan of mush-ville, I’m going to shout out to my 5 most favorite couples.


These are ones who make me believe in real love.


Not the kind of love that happens when it’s convenient or easy.


But the kind of love that respects, and sacrifices, and understands, and never ever gives up.


All these people are amazing as individuals, but together they’re even better.


I admire all of them for who they are – you guys keep my faith in love alive.


Couple 1: Mom and Dad


Mom and Dad


I see in them everything I want my life to be. They’re perfectly balanced, and they bring out the best in each other. From them I’ve learnt that real love is for a lifetime, and no matter what life throws at you, you can get through it if you’re together. Love you both more than anything in this world.


Couple 2: Parul and Andy


Parul and Andy


It’s strange I’ve never met Andy, but I feel like I know him so well through Parul. Theirs is the classic young-love story. Despite the pressures of distance, their relationship proves how resilient love can be. From them I’ve learnt what unconditional support and trust in a relationship really means.


Also, any couple that brings this most adorable munchkin into the world, is clearly doing it right. I love this baby to bits.


Ally


Couple 3: Shriya and Mukund


Shriya and Mukund


There are some love stories you’re lucky enough to witness blossom and grow – Shriya and Mukund’s is one of those. This picture-perfect couple share a love for travel, fitness, and puppies. They are always doing immensely thoughtful things for each other, and take the time to share wonderful experiences together. I miss them so much!


Couple 4: Mona and Badri


Mona and Badri


You’d think they’re so different, but Mona and Badri fit together like 2 pieces of a puzzle. I love them because when you’re with them, it’s always unbelievably fun. From them I’ve learnt that opposites not only attract, but are also better together! Hugs, you guys!


Couple 5: Rupa and Judo


Rupa and Judo


These two have been married for a few years now, but the way they talk to each other, you’d think they just started dating. There is a refreshing child-likeness in their relationship – they always make the best of whatever the situation is, and wherever they are, there is sure to be laughter. And guess what, now the babies have their very own baby – I can’t wait to meet him :)


This Valentine’s Day, I’m sending my love to all these wonderful people who’ve taught me a thing or two about love. Here’s to many, many more years together of laughter and fun and craziness and happiness for all of you :)


Now that you’re all full of that warm, cozy feeling I’m gonna share a crazy easy, no-bake, healthy dessert with you guys, so you can hop right into your kitchen and make it for your Valentine <3!


Did I mention it’s stunning too?


Panna Cotta 1


I used pink dragon fruit, coz duh! It’s Valentine’s Day :P


It’s 4 ingredients and it’s a Paleo dessert – so it’s as guilt-free as you can get!


Panna Cotta 2


Paleo Coconut milk Panna Cotta
Adapted from: Deliciously Organic


Prep time: 10 mins, plus cooling and chilling time
Serves: 6


Ingredients:


1 litre coconut milk (full-fat)
11/2 tbsp unflavoured gelatin
100 ml raw honey
1 dragon fruit (or any other fruit you like)


Panna Cotta 4


Method:


1. Pour 250 ml of the coconut milk into a large saucepan and scatter the gelatin in. Stir to mix in and leave for ten minutes.
2. Place the saucepan over a medium flame and keep stirring until small bubbles appear on the sides of the pan. Pour in the remaining coconut milk, followed by the honey and stir until everything is mixed well. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
3. Pour into 6 small bowls or glasses, cover with cling film, and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, top with chopped dragon fruit.


Fun fact: Dragon fruit stains your fingers a pretty pink colour – much like beetroot :)


Panna Cotta 3


Happy Valentine’s Day, guys :) Cheers to love!


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Do you love children?


I do.


I remember a time when I didn’t, though – I found them snotty, and whiny, and tiny, and annoying. This was probably when I was a snotty, whiny, tiny being myself.


Having now matured into a (slightly) less whiny adult, I find myself rather happy in the company of children.


They’re quite wonderful, these tiny people. They say the funniest things, look at every single thing in wonder, and teach us to really live when we forget.


Also they’re so darned cute. And I happen to know and love some particularly adorable ones. I mean just look at these faces.


Sometimes they wear yellow glasses and eat cake. That makes me happy.


Niks


Other times they take a break from pillow fighting and smile for the camera. You can’t help but smile too.


Rishi chikki


When you’re stressed, they tumble over boxes and chatter with you non-stop until you forget your worries. You realise you want to tumble over boxes too. (It looks like so much fun, right?)


Ally


And then, once in while, they dress up and look so adorable, it melts your heart. You realise they’re growing up too fast.


Raya rahil


Children are quite wonderful. But when you throw cooking into the mix, they’re unstoppable.


They love getting their hands dirty, they aren’t afraid to experiment, and they will try anything once. Tell me that’s not the very definition of a fantastic cook.


Ally 1


Which brings me to an exciting announcement :)


There’s a fabulous new treat for all the young chefs out there.


Dorling Kindersley India and Vikas Khanna have created a one-of-a-kind cookbook for children that’s being released on 14th November, 2013.


The book is a fantastic mix of modern recipes, step-by-step images, and easy-to-follow instructions. It’s a wonderful book for any child who is interested in cooking – both for those who are already cooking and want to expand their skills, as well as those who’ve just taken a peep into the kitchen and like what they see :) This book will give them just the encouragement they need.


Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 1.50.56 PM


I’m giving away a copy of this book to one of you fabulous people. It’ll be signed by Vikas Khanna too! :) All you need to do is drop me a comment below telling me who your favourite little person is and why you love them. Entries will be accepted till 30th November, after which I’ll pick one winner by a random draw.


If you can’t wait to buy Young Chefs, go to Penguin India and get it now!


Thank god for children. For the silliness and the laughter and the fun.
There’s so much to learn from them :)


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For many lucky girls around the world, their Dad is their hero.


Dads teach us how to ride bikes and laugh from our stomachs.


They take us on adventures we can’t ever forget.


They protect us like a literal human shield, from all life’s bad things.


My Dad is that Dad.


Papa and me 1


And here are 10 things he’s taught me about life.


1. You can never be too early to catch a train or a flight. (2-3 hours before is mandatory, but anything above 3 hours, and you’re gold.)


2. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to a birthday party, but always make sure you attend a funeral.


3. Mixing a single malt with Coca Cola is a sissy thing to do. Drink it on the rocks. Like a boss.


4. Always do more than what is expected of you. Much, much more. And do not expect anything in return.


5. It is not nice to stand too close to boys in photographs.


6. If you have to read aloud at an event, the only thing to remember is to read slowly.


7. Try all the crazy things you want to. Just try them at home.


8. When you’re sad, watch The Tom and Jerry Show and you’ll feel better instantly.


9. If you really love something, chase it with everything you have. You will reach it.


10. Family always comes first.


There are so many more, but these are the ones I try to live by.
The ones that are now a part of me.
The ones I might pass on a daughter some day.


Mom says I am very much like my Dad. And nothing makes me prouder.


So this one is for you, Papa.


Papa and me 2


The first man I ever loved.
Baker of the softest cakes.
Granter of my every wish.
Protector from every pain.
Filler of my fridge.
Teacher of tough lessons.
Encourager of my every dream.
My biggest supporter.
My first hero.
My shoulder, my safe haven, my strength.


For everything you’ve taught me by example, and for everything you are, I love you more and more each day.
Thank you for being my rock.


I wish I could send you some of this wonderful Paleo chocolate, but it’d melt.


Paleo chocolate 5


This Paleo chocolate is THE only Paleo hack you need.


Just a few simple ingredients and some stirring will result in the most dark, bitter, smooth, silken chocolate ever.


Melted paleo chocolate


I feel like chocolate was the one thing I was really missing on my Paleo challenge and now I can eat it while being 100% Paleo!


This stuff is crazy rich though, so don’t eat a whole lot at once like I did. You’ll get a tummy ache :P


Since coconut oil is the base, you will be able to taste it a little, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you can’t stand the smell/taste of coconut.


You can make them in mini cupcake cases, and top them with nuts.


Paleo chocolate 1


Or cut up in haphazard shapes :)


Paleo chocolate 6


A little goes a long way – the piece will melt gently between your fingers as you nibble on it, so you can lick your fingers after as well :)


Paleo chocolate 3


Paleo Chocolate


Prep time: 5 mins
Makes: 20-30 pieces


Ingredients:


120 ml coconut oil, melted
100 g cocoa powder
2 tbsp wild organic honey (or maple syrup), plus more to taste if you want
pinch of sea salt
assorted nuts (optional)


Method:


Paleo chocolate 4


1. Pour the coconut oil into a medium mixing bowl. Add the cocoa powder a little at a time, stirring to mix well.
2. Add the honey and salt and stir everything togther until well mixed. Taste and add a little more honey if it is too bitter for you.
3. Pour into mini cupcake cases and top with nuts if you like, or pour over a parchment-covered tray and spread out to an even layer. Freeze for 2-3 hours. Roughly chop up the chocolate on the tray and store in a box in the fridge. The chocolate minis should also be stored in the fridge.


I’m telling you – Paleo never tasted this good!


Have a fantastic day my darlins :)


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