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Russian Monday: Top 8 Russian Appetizers for New Year's Eve Celebration



New Year in Russia is considered to be a family holiday, but many choose to have their New Year’s party in clubs or restaurants, or while being away on exotic beach vacations, or in the country setting with the company of friends. However, most often, it is still celebrated at home at the festive table.

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Luxury Chocolate Fruit Cake with Rum - Best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season!



ChristmasEve may be the most enchanted evening of all. So much legend, myth, and mystery, both religious and secular, are part of the night of December 24. And for those who celebrate Christmas, there are more personal and family traditions attached to this night than to any other night of the year.

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Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Marinade & Roasted Vegetables



Lamb leg is considered the choicest cut for roasting, although a boned shoulder or a rack of lamb is also delicious. Legs are usually sold range in weight from 5 to 10 pounds. You may have the leg prepared couple different ways for your cooking. A French way - leg has the shank bone left in and trimmed. An American way - the shank bone is removed, and the meat turned under and either tied or secured with a skewer. If you have trouble carving a leg of lamb, have the shank bone left in, the other bones removed, and the roast rolled and tied. This gives you even slices and presents no trouble at table to the carver.

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Russian Monday: Roasted Lemony Duck with Buttery Quince - “Utka & Aiva”



Many people, when they think of duck, think only of roast duck. In reality there are so many interesting ways to prepare duck that, with the real connoisseurs, roast duck often takes a a back seat. For instance, steamed or boiled duck may be attractively combined with vegetables in Chinese-style recipes. Or duck may be braised and served with any one of a number of delicious sauces. But, personally I always come back to roasting the duck, with different herbs, spices, fruits and grains. Here is a recipe I created for upcoming holidays - roasted duck, with ginger and sweet honey, stuffed with lemons. I served it with fried pan buttery quince and few fermented and pickled vegetables. If you looking to cook something different for Christmas I hope you will try my recipe for simple roasted duck.

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Russian Monday: “Volovan s Gribamy” - Vol-au-vents with Creamy Mushroom & Shrimp Filling



Vol-au-vent is a puffy tartlet from flaky dought. Dough raises up during baking and takes shape of a small cup or basket. Variety of fillings go into baked dough baskets  and they are served cold or hot.

Vol-au-vents are of French origin, first time made by French chef Marie-Antoine Carême. Name of this pastry points to the type of dough used in it. The initial idea behind volauvents was to make them very lite as opposed to the ones made of shortcrust dough. There is another name for vol-au-vents – bouchées. Authorship of first bouchées is attributed to wife of King Louis XV, Maria Leschinsky. She loved small single bite type of foods and hence the name – “bouchées à la reine”, queen’s bites.

Despite of vol-au-vents French origin, they are very popular in Russian cuisine, you can find variety of their recipes in old cook books of Soviet time.

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Pumpkin & Flax Seeds, Sun-dried Tomato Crackers with Roasted Beets Hummus



I have been very busy over the last few weeks, doing a lot of creative things/jobs and also watching my latest favorite cooking show - The Great British Baking Show. You probably can tell, since I bake quite a lot lately, just cannot help myself, the show is so good. I just want to bake together with the bakers and I do.

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Pumpkin Bread with Raisins, Dried Cherries & Pumpkin Seeds



Old-fashioned hospitality is at its best when you combine good food with your friends. And what could be more neighborly than to welcome your quests with a special fresh baked pumpkin bread full of flavors and fall's vibrant color.

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Russian Monday: "Lenivie Golubtsy" - Lazy Style Cabbage Rolls



Nobody knows exact origin of golubtsy (pronounced in Russian as “go-loob-zy”), i.e. Russian traditional stuffed cabbage dish, neither origin of its name. One thing is for certain – this dish is tasty, satisfying and impossible to get bored with due to tens of variations of the same recipe. One of such variations is named “lazy golubtsy”.

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Baked Sweet Potato Roses with Fresh Thyme



If you’re run out of ideas for sweet potato appetizers/snacks/side dishes, these potato roses are a very pretty and easy to make. It takes only 25 minutes to cook it and just few ingredients.

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Russian Recipe: "Makoviy Pirog" - Poppy Seeds Challah Centerpiece Wreath



Russians love to bake. My childhood home always smelled like sweet dough and we had bakes all year round. But of course fall and winter were special seasons for baking. To the day I still carry that tradition. When the weather starts to cool down and first firewood is put to use, I like to spend my time baking and creating new sweet recipes.

Poppy seeds is one of the commonly used baking ingredients in Russian cuisine. Challah is my favorite type of dough, it is simple to make, it's tasty and its texture is great. If poppy seeds are too much trouble for you, just make plain Challah wreath and top it with almonds. But I absolutely love poppy seeds here, they bring sweet crunch to this delicious dinner table centerpiece. This recipe is great for holidays and family gatherings.

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Baked Acorn Squash with Chestnuts, Mushrooms & Quinoa, also a Story about Horse-Chestnuts!



Halved acorn squash make perfect single-serving bowls. These make a great vegetarian main course for any day, but they're also a festive accompaniment to turkey, chicken or roast duck.

(This post has many beautiful photographs - enjoy them!!!)

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Russian Monday: "Rassolnik" - Beef Short Rib Soup with Vegetables, Barley & Pickles



With great pleasure I am happy to introduce you to one of my favorite soups – pickled soup (or “rassolnik” in Russian). This is traditional soup of peasants and farmers, people working the land - hearty, tasty and cheap to cook. Today’s “rassolnik” is direct descendant of picked dishes of traditional Russian cuisine, some of which  included pirogue with stuffing soaked in cucumber or any other spicy brine. Four main varieties of “rassolnik” are made either with meat, fish, vegetable or giblets broth and pickles is mandatory ingredient in all of these varieties.

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Crunchy Apple-Almond Tart with Baked Apple Chips & New Still Life "Apple Season"



Have you baked your apple pie yet? Here is another recipe for an apple tart/pie you may like to try it. Almonds add a wonderful golden hue and crunchiness to the crumble topping for this tart, which makes a perfect contrast to the sweet, juicy apple filling. Adding apple chips is totally optional, however it brings extra texture to this autumn dessert. Serve the flan with vanilla or caramel ice cream. Coffee anyone?

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Russian Monday: Warm Potato Salad with Radish & Cucumber, Mustard Dressing



In serious Russian cookbooks potato salads always merit to get chapter of their own. This is because potato salad is not just salad with potatoes, like Vinegrette or "Olivier", you are already familiar with, but rather whole category of salads, in which potatoes are the leading ingredient. This particular kind of salad does not require young small potatoes (although, I like to use new potatoes for this salad), the important factor is if the kind of potatoes you use would keep their shape after boiling and can be easily cut in cubes or slices that would not break when mixing with other ingredients.

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Russian Monday: "Zavarnoe Koltso" - Choux Pastry Rings with Sweet Farmer Cheese Butter Cream



I will always remember from time to time, when coming from school, in cold and rainy autumn and winter days, opening the door and immediately smell the baking sweets being made. My fondest memories are of my mother baking “Zavarnie Kolechki” (Choux Pastry Rings). I hope you'll enjoy this delicate dessert from my childhood.

I wonder what foods and recipes do you remember fondly from childhood, and where are you from?

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Garlic Bread with Fresh Herbs Baked in Flower Pots



There are few things more pleasurable than the aroma and taste of freshly cooked home-made bread. These flower pot loaves are flavored with fresh chives, sage, parsley and garlic. You can use any selection of your favorite herbs. These are the most visually stunning breads and the are perfect for entertaining.

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Strawberries in Syrup With Cardamom & Rose Water



Sweet and fragrant, a strawberry in syrup nourishes the soul as well as body. Ideal for relaxed weekend mornings when the family wanders in for breakfast, just serve over crispy waffles or fluffy pancakes with rich cream and your favorite coffee.

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Luxurious Lobster Bisque & Other Unique Lobster Recipes That Are a Must Try This Summer



Are you looking for a dinner that isn't just the same beef, pork, or chicken dish? Maybe you're planning to cook a fancy dinner for you and your significant other. Lobster is a great way to take your dinner plans to the next level. But rather than going with the typical lobster tail and butter, why not consider one of the following recipes?

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Avocado Appetizer with Yogurt, Garlic, Micro Greens and Chive Flower



Chive flower is a the first flower I ate this summer from our garden. I was standing by the chives picking off the flowers to promote more leaf growth, and I thought they might taste good. They certainly do - a crunchy, mild onion flavor. I have since added them to few dishes, from baked potatoes to salads of every description. My favorite and most attractive is avocado appetizer with yogurt, garlic, and micro greens.

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Purple Vegetables Still Life & Helpful article about freezers



Purple Vegetables Still Life (2015)

This is one of my new still life, very dramatic. Beets, eggplant and purple sweet potatoes can be simply beautiful. This picture was done with Mamiya camera - super sharp image.

If you are interested in purchasing a print or a digital copy please contact me for pricing information. Thank you.

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Summer Vegetarian Sandwich, #OXOGreenSaver & Melissa's Cucumbers



The meaty texture of baby portobello mushrooms combined with creamy avocado, crunchy cucumbers and fresh micro greens makes a substantial sandwich. Swiss cheese adds richness to this summer lunch. This version is especially good on a whole wheat or multigrain bread.

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Carrot & Green Apple Salad with Lime Vinaigrette



Carrots and green apples, both of them crunchy and sweet, are a winning combination in this tangy salad. Serve this salad as an accompaniment to a smoked turkey sandwich or grilled chicken, shrimp or fish. Look for interesting varieties of carrots in different colors, and use a Thin Julienne Slicer to slice them perfect thin strips.

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Spring Colors Collection - Have a Beautiful Weekend!



"flower petals drop
blossom haze blinding senses
aroma, sight sweetened"

carol l mckenna

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Happy Spring Gardening #OXOSpringGardening



Tucked behind a tangle of brush at the bottom of the gentle hill of our townhouse backyards is a cleared space of about a quarter of an acre. Several of our neighbors proudly refer to it as "the community garden".

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Russian Monday; "Lenivie Vareniki" - "Lazy" Vanilla Ricotta Dumplings with Whole Wheat Flour



“Lazy” dumplings (or “le-nee-vye va-re-nee-kee” in Russian) are gnocchi-shaped dumplings made by mixing ricotta cheese or farmer cheese with egg and white/wheat flour into quick dough. It is an easier version for people who don't have time to make stuffed dumplings. These are great for breakfast and my mom used to make them for me many times. They can be served in many ways, for example - with sweet sauce, berries and cream. If you like to have a savory version, add shredded cheese, fresh green peas and serve them with melted butter or even tomato sauce. I used whole wheat flour for my recipe, but you are welcome to use all-purpose flour, that way your dumplings will come out whiter and lighter.

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Russian Monday: Omelet " po Leningradski" - Omelet with Onion, Tomato, Veal & Fresh Herbs



As you know, I was born and grew up in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad). From my childhood memories I remember most popular breakfast of the time - omelet with onions, tomatoes, any cooked meat and fresh herbs. It was something known to everyone and cooked in great variety of ways. This omelet does not have any “official” name, but I have nicknamed it “po Leningradsky” (“Leningrad omelet”), in honor of my old city. The omelet is fresh, colorful and fulfilling, you can use any leftover cooked meat or cold cuts and it can be done in 15 minutes. It is great breakfast dish in one pan for the whole family. For fresh herbs you can use parsley, dill, cilantro or scallions. Serve it with dark bread toast.

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Beet Tower Salad with Goat Cheese



I just love tower salads, I think they even taste better because of their unique presentation. I already have two tower salad recipes with fresh spring ingredients on my blog (Tomato Salad with Mozzarella & Avocado,  Pear Arugula Salad with Walnuts & Blue Cheese), and now I am happy to add one more to my collection. Simple but yet elegant and sophisticated, great for any occasions, from luncheon with a girlfriend to spring/summer appetizer for dinner with friends and family.

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Cinnamon-Pecan Buns/Rolls with Butter Frosting



These cinnamon buns/rolls are very special, sweet, gooey and irresistible. You fill the dough with sugary pecans, mixed with cinnamon, butter and cocoa powder, that produces beautiful, buttery layers. These bear no resemblance to anything store-bought.

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Green Salad (Cucumber, Zucchini, Avocado) with Plum Sweet & Spicy Dressing



The spring is finally here and I feel like eating more vegetables, fresh fruits and berries. I start mornings with a glass of freshly made juice and my lunch becomes lighter and healthier. I present this special salad which is good for any diet. It has few ingredients but many flavors. I use all organic vegetables and highly recommend the same in your cooking. The dressing is slightly sweet with a touch of cayenne pepper, but you may change your ingredients if you’d like. My husband had this salad with broiled salmon for dinner and he was very pleased. Enjoy these simple, but nutritious recipes.

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Orange-Chocolate Cake with Beets, Honey, Chia Seeds & Spelt Flour



If you love the beets as much as I do that this recipe is definitely for you. On my blog I have about twenty different recipes with beets, but there is nothing like this dessert. Chocolate and beets may sound to be a strange combination, but in fact they go very well together. This cake has an interesting texture and taste, chia seeds give it a crunch and beets chunks feel like small pieces of fruit, very sweet and colorful. Coconut oil adds an amazing aroma to this unique dessert. Try it and see for yourself, have a little culinary adventure in your kitchen. Don't forget to put a kettle on, while baking a cake-))

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Russian Monday: "Sushki" - Sweet Tea Bread, Baked Crunchy Round Snacks



I use to love these little tea breads when I was a child and I still love them today. I buy them often in Russian grocery store near us, but always had a desire to bake them myself. Sushki are slightly sweet crunchy round pastries/cookies which are served with tea or eaten as a snack. They look like mini bagels but they are very dry and crispy. They are fun to make, actually our whole family was making them - that is why our sushki look all different-)) It's ok, we had some good time. I like them with poppy seeds, but you can make them plain or top them with sesame seeds as well.

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Sunday Brunch: Arctic Char with Tomatoes & Asparagus



Letting people serve themselves is the simplest way to host a sunday brunch. Preplanning the food table as well as the drinks makes for an event where you can actually sit down and enjoy your quests. After deciding on your menu, choose your serving platters and tools. Set up your buffet table starting with plates, utensils, and napkins, then lay out the food in the order you would like to serve it, savory dishes first, sweets and fruits at the end.

For drinks, set out glasses in a few different sizes, a bucket of ice, and selection of drinks. Have a bottle of champagne open and be sure to offer orange juice and a pitcher of water with lemon slices.

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Eggs en Cocotte with Mushrooms & Green Peas



A cocotte is a small round or oval dish in which food is cooked and served - a ramekin or individual casserole. It may be made of fireproof china, tempered glass, earthenware, porcelain, cast iron, copper, or stainless steel. The food cooked and served in such dishes is usually called "en cocotte".

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Blackened Shad Roe & Sautéed in Butter



Shad was known as elft, the eleven fish, to the early Dutch settlers. It was on the 11th day of March each year that the first shad were caught and cooked on a plank, a method the settlers learned from the Indians. Shad were so abundant in colonial days that it became quite fashionable among some of the well-to-do. Many of them ate shad on the sly, fearing others would think them unable to afford more expensive food.

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Are You Ready for Spring? #OXOSpringCleaning



Spring is finally around the corner after the endless cold days and this means new start and new beginning. Everything slowly starts to wake up as sun warms up the ground. I love first sunny days, I open my windows to let fresh air to come into our bedrooms. Once you can see first flowers under the trees you know Easter is coming soon. Along with cooking special foods during such time, I like to give my house a spark and start my spring cleaning. I do laundry almost every day - all winter jackets, scarves and sweaters need a good wash. Winter boots are going into their boxes until next cold season. When all of this is in order, I start freshening up room by room. I buy many flowers and herbs in early spring, something unique for every room. Tulips usually go on my dining table, lilies of the valley – to bedrooms. Fresh mint on a countertop brings lovely aroma in a kitchen. Don't you just love new beginning?

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Russian Monday: "Romovay Baba" - Rum Baba



When I was a child we were allowed to go by ourselves to the local food store for simple shopping such as getting bread or milk. Very often in my early age I had basic grocery shopping as a chore. Our nearby bakery was nothing special. They stocked few varieties of breads, some breakfast pastries as well as few cakes were always available, but that was all. But sometimes, if you were lucky to come to the store at the right time, you could find number of sweet treats behind glass display. One of such treats was rum baba, soaked in sweet syrup, rum and covered with white sugar icing.

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Strawberry Scones with Blood Orange Icing



Scones resemble biscuits, and indeed might be considered their British cousins. They are common-place on the tea table but being inherently rebellious, people from other countries find them inviting on the breakfast table as well. Scones are simple to put together. They are generally heavier than biscuits, and often are studded with fresh and dried fruits, ginger or made from nutritious oats. A hot scone eaten as the British do, with a dollop of crème fraîche or Devonshire cream and some chunky berry preserves, is a taste treat not to be missed on either side of the Atlantic.

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Kale, Avocado, Flaxseed Oil Pesto (Dairy free, Vegan, Gluten free)



My kale pesto made with an avocado and flaxseed oil. It took me only 5 minutes to prepare this tasty sauce. If you don't have pine nuts, you may use walnuts. Also, feel free to substitute olive oil for the flaxseed oil. This pesto recipe is vegan, dairy free and gluten free.

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6 Recipes for St.Patrick's Day to Try



I have a small collection of Irish recipes for all occasions - a hearty family supper, a traditional St.Patrick's Day party, or a special celebration. I hope you'll find your favorite!

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Homemade Hummus Made with Dried Chickpeas



This dish already is thousands of years old. When I traveled through Middle East I have tried hummus from street food carts and in fancy restaurants. Each hummus master would tell you a story of his unique recipe passed from generation to generation, but he would not reveal the recipe to anyone, of course.

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Russian Monday: Family Dinner - Cornish Hens Under a Brick, Roasted Potato & Cucumber Salad



March can be a very tricky month. One day the sun is shining and birds are singing, but the next day you wake up and find a pile of snow from overnight snowstorm on your doorstep. That is what happened to us a couple of days ago. School was cancelled, train service was suspended and life came to a complete standstill.

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Homemade Pita Bread



Pita Bread also known as pocket bread and made with white or whole wheat flour. Pita can be cut into wedges and served with meals or appetizers, especially dips, or is halved crosswise, and the resulting pockets may be filled with various vegetables, salads to make a sandwich. We love to serve it with traditional hummus, fresh herbs and cucumbers. Pitas are pretty amazing just warm from the oven with a drizzle of your favorite oil.

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Brown Soda Bread with Buckwheat Flour & Molasses



Soda bread has long been a staple in Ireland. It is a bread made without yeast, because baking soda mixed with buttermilk is used as a leavening agent. A cross is cut into the top of the bread to help it rise and, according to Irish folklore, to either ward off evil or let the fairies out.

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Filet Mignon Steak with Blue Cheese & Rosemary Butter, Spicy Potato on a Side



Simple dinner idea with a twist under 40 minutes time. Butter blended with fresh herbs, known as a compound butter, makes a simple but delicious embellishment for any kind of steak.

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Russian Monday on Saturday: "Oladushky" - Honey Yeast Blini ( Pancakes, Blintzes )



Winter farewell is a time of awakening; the beginning of new life. Since ancient times, people have enjoyed this time of the year. Festivals and carnivals are held all over the world: Chinese New Year, Venice Carnival, a holiday of the trees - Tu B’Shvat in Israel, Mardi Gras, even Groundhog Day, which was brought to America from Germany, and one of the oldest Russian holidays - Maslenitsa.

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Winter Salad with Beans, Potato & Roasted Beets



The beets color this warm winter salad a delightful purple, but if you like to keep colors separate, add the beets last. This salads good on its own as a side dish, or as a base for pan-fried fish or chicken.

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Russian Monday: "Kortofelnaya Zapekanka" - Beef & Potato Сasserole



Recipes using ground meat were very popular when I lived in Russia, probably because ground meat is the kind of ingredient that allows a lot of variety.  Potato casserole with ground meat is the dish used to be cooked by our moms and grandmas. I don’t know the origins of it, but I can say for sure that it is traditional dish of Russian cuisine.

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Chocolate-Lace Lollipops with Dried Fruit & Nuts



This sweet delight is a classic combination of chocolate and dried fruit, but in the form a pretty lollipop. The beautiful and unique chocolate bouquet for your Valentine!

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