Olympic Spirit!

We thought we would take a quick break from all things food and beverage related for a quick announcement! Gourmet International employees have been placed into teams representing the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Norway. This Thursday/Friday, as the official Winter Olympics begin, we will have our own opening ceremonies and carrying of the olympic torch!

I hope to get some good photos and maybe, if I am lucky, I can grab some video of everyone enjoying the following itinerary of events:

  • Friday, February 9 – Opening Torch Ceremony & First Event: Paper Plate Discus
  • Monday, February 12 – Broom Hockey Shoot Out (might get upgraded to a real shoot out!)
  • Wednesday, February 14 – Chair Rowing
  • Friday, February 16 – Paper Plane Javelin
  • Monday, February 19 – Balloon Sprint
  • Wednesday, February 21 – Cookie Monster
  • Thursday, February 22 – Synchronized Chair Dancing
  • Friday, February 23 – Final Synchronized Chair Dancing & Closing Medal Ceremony

Now, there is an “Official Rule Book” – with rules and instructions on how to participate in these events! I will share those on the actual day of events! We hope you stick with us as we take a fun break and enjoy some company rivalry!

What are some of your favorite events that take place during the Winter Olympics? I’d have to say that I do enjoy a lot of the skiing and ice skating events, as well as, of course, HOCKEY! Luge is another fun one… so many to choose from! Oh and curling… I’ll just stop now, because I will probably just list all of the events!

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Taking a Walk with Mr. Stanley.

I love mint. I also love dark chocolate. I love these Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks made by Mr. Stanley’s. So you’ll find me walking around with these from time to time. I can’t just eat one either, I must have like 3 or 4, maybe more (yes, more)? I am addicted to anything minty and anything dark chocolate, so when I found these little treat sticks, I knew I was in trouble! These are perfect for me when I am running errands and I’m trying to get out of the house, but I also want something minty – but not gum. I can grab these little sticks and get the kids in the car and away I go! They are not messy, no wrappers to deal with, since I grab them straight from the box. I’d show you the inside of the box, but it’s – uh… empty! (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) The box itself states, “Tasty Twists of Pure Chocolate Indulgence”, and I have to agree… they are tasty twists of pure indulgence!

If you are not a fan of mint or you like a different flavor, these little sticks come in orange flavor as well!

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I love Mr. Stanley’s classic packaging with the stripes and fun fonts! When I grabbed this box off the shelf at the store, I sort of felt like I was getting myself ready to have some fun! And I have! Because not only did I find the Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks, I also found the fun Chocolate Matches with Popping Candy! Seriously! How fun can we make candy? I found the white chocolate matches – and not only do I think they are fun and funky, my kids love biting into them and feeling the little popping pops in their mouth!

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The Chocolate Matches come in a fun box that, why yes, resembles a box of matches! These are matches the kids CAN play with! I am not endorsing any such thing, but these chocolate matches are sure not to spark any flame or fire! But they will spark curiosity fun with kids and candy lovers alike!

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The chocolate matches are probably double the size, maybe a little more, than the mint sticks. But either way, they both are delicious and tons of fun to eat and share! And not to worry, the popping candy in the matches aren’t obnoxiously poppy, they are just enough pop to make you think of the popping sounds and start of a wood fire!

While I have the white chocolate matches, these also come in different varieties: milk chocolate & salted caramel, and Earl Grey dark chocolate matches! Note that these other flavors do *not* have popping candy, but they do have some unique flavors! So there you have it! Some delicious fun from Mr. Stanley’s! These are fun for any occasion, or no occasion at all! Just get them and have fun! But they do make great gifts for young and old, and their fun and classic packaging makes it so inviting to open up and share! Not all gourmet chocolate is this fun!

 

Thank You for the Fun #TravelingSanta!

As promised, we wanted to share our love and fun of #TravelingSanta!

The children will miss #TravelingSanta until next year! Thank you #TravelingSanta for the fun we had this past Christmas holiday season! Farewell, until we meet again!

We hope you enjoy our little video of the adventures we all had together!

Christmas Markets of the United States.

Christmas Markets have become a popular place to visit during the Christmas season. What does a Christmas Market entail? And when did it begin? Widely popular all throughout Europe, Christmas Markets have had a long tradition of being an important aspect of the season. Taking a look back at some history, Vienna, Austria, was first to have “December Market” in 1298. As for the Christmas Markets opening in Germany, there have been different answers: Munich 1310, Bauzen 1384 and Frankfurt 1393. From there the Christmas Markets spread across Europe and beyond. Below is a photo from the Christmas Market in Nuremberg.

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Christmas Markets are also known as Christkindlmarkts, otherwise known as Christ Child Markets. This dates back to the days of Martin Luther where he wanted to take focus away from the Saints Nicholas and Martin. Before the 1530s, gifts were exchanged on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) or November 11 (St. Martins Day). Martin Luther’s children received gifts on the 24th of December, from Christkindl or Christ Child, and as that continued some of the Christmas Markets called themselves Christkindlmarkts.

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I’d like to make sure we give credit to German Girl In America for a lot of the data and information that I shared here with you all.

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Christmas Markets have spread all across the United States and have gained popularity among larger cities. Just take a moment on Google and you can search the many markets across the States. I’ll list a few here:

Note that all the Christmas Markets have different operating dates, times and such. Do check out their websites prior to visiting and research what is available and open during certain times of the holiday season.

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These Christmas Markets offer a variety of seasonal treats, foods, candies and an assortment of gifts, festivities and fun for families and friends to enjoy. Have you been to a Christmas Market? If you have, what are your favorite things to do, to see, or to buy?

If you are searching for a Christmas Market near you, try looking at ChristmasMarkets.com to help you with your search!

The photos that are seen throughout this post are all under Creative Commons CC0 and were obtained by Pixabay.

 

Run, Run… As Fast As You Can…

Run, run… as fast as you can, but no one can stop the demise of Mr. Ginger, the DSC_0013Gingerbread Man! As I was shopping in one of the local stores in town, I passed by Mr. Ginger, the cute and friendly gingerbread man who brings holiday cheer all the way from Belgium’s Belfine chocolate factory. I couldn’t pick up just one, I had to pick up several. We have friends and family visiting later this month and he makes the perfect little addition to any gifts or treats we will be passing out or having on hand when company arrives. He’s super cute, made of chocolate and he appears to be a friendly little fellow. Unfortunately I could not save him from the demise of my youngest son. And what can I say, I suppose it was entertaining to watch Mr. Ginger see a cruel and horrific fate!

But before I share the downfall of Mr. Ginger, I’d like to also share this little gift package I bought the other day that was sitting right next to Mr. Ginger! It’s the cutest Santa with his sleigh and some reindeer! It’s the perfect gift for any child, young OR old, boy OR girl! It’s currently sitting on my kitchen counter, and there have been several eyes lurking at the prize inside! Sadly, this little gift package is NOT for my children, it will be given away to company visiting later this month! It’s actually torturing my youngest child who cannot wait for his friend to visit! He keeps asking me if it’s Christmas yet, I sadly let him know that it is not. He keeps asking me if his friend is arriving soon and if he’s in town already, I sadly once again let him know that it’s just not time yet. SOON! Very soon!

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I have to admit, I have come close to opening this package of Santa and his reindeer myself… I keep thinking to myself that it would be fun to nibble off the antlers on those four-legged sleigh transporters. But seriously? How cute is this? Anyone would love receiving this little box as a gift for the holidays!

I am seriously impressed with these gorgeous Belfine chocolates – I just love the designs they come up with and I love how they package their products. Belfine seems to be a really creative and fun company to work for! I did write about their process of chocolate character making earlier this year in this blog post. It’s really neat how the chocolates are all made unique and have their own name. What I also espeically like about these chocoloates are the bright colors these treats have! They are made well and you can tell just by looking at them that these are a quality product! Let’s also not forget – they are GMO free!

I told my mom about the cute Santa and his reindeer for gift giving ideas, when she actually saw the package on my counter she was pleasantly surprised even noted how cute the set was! I kind of think that she would have rather been the first one to see it and buy it herself for gift giving purposes! I beat her to it!

And now… I bring your attention back to poor Mr. Ginger. Someone had waaaay too much fun chomping off his head… the poor little gingerbread dude never stood a chance! At least it was quick?!?! ūüėČ

Nibble, nibble!

 

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The Doctor Is In… With Mousse!

This post is about two things:¬†Dr. Oetker Mousse¬†stuffed into¬†Kane Candy Party Cups! Well, maybe three… It’s National Mousse Day (thanks again to Foodimentary.com)! Time to make ourselves an extravagant and simple treat to celebrate! And since the holidays are upon us, I thought it would be a great day and special way to perhaps show what we can do with some of these products to make our holiday season more festive! And maybe it’s actually about a fourth thing… I do think a doctor also needs to help ME with my decorating skills, at least my holiday decorating skills! As you’ll see in this post, I had high hopes, but I had a great attempt!

 

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Who doesn’t love a good chocolate mousse and who doesn’t love a chocolate candy cup? Put the two together and it’s a party in your mouth! Party, party my people! My youngest helped me prepare the mousse, which is super simple and easy! Just add one cup of cold milk to the Dr. Oetker mix and blend away with an electric mixer for about 3-5 minutes. I find the best way to fill the Kane Candy Cups is to just fill a pastry bag with the mousse and then fill from there. I also leave the Kane Candy Cups in their tray they were packaged in, it helps to keep everything secure while trying to add the filling!

 

What’s perfect about this combination is that the mousse is four servings and you get four cups. Perfect! So fill those chocolate cups to the top and decorate! This treat took less than ten minutes to pull together, so if you find yourself in a rush to make something, put two and two together and you’ve four! Four servings of chocolate bliss! And what’s even cool about the Kane Candy Cups is that this particular package, the Dark Chocolate Party Cups, come with chocolate shavings included – so if you were last minute on prepping the dessert to begin with, they’ve also got you covered in the decorating area as well! What a bonus!

My best work came by just using the shavings that came with the package:

 

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And if you want to see my holiday attempt, here you go! I tried to do a reindeer, but it looks like a sad form of bunny rabbit. I think I will need to use the mini-sized candy canes. The larger ones I think are too bulky, heavy and large for this size cup! So here we go, and feel free to laugh at my reindeer attempt, because I did!

 

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If you find yourself making a fun dessert or treat with Kane Candy Cups or with Dr. Oetker, share your photos and recipes with us! Share here in WordPress or feel free to drop us a photo in Facebook, or tag us in Instagram,¬†or Twitter… post in Pinterest or wherever!¬†We want to see what other people are creating around the world!

And by the way, just in case you were wondering… how did it taste? DELICIOUS! Nom nom nom! I am ashamed to say I had one for breakfast!! Well, no, I should say I ENJOYED one for breakfast as I celebrated¬†NATIONAL MOUSSE DAY!! ūüôā

 

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Enjoy National Chocolates Day!

Happy Wednesday! According to Foodimentary.com, today is National Chocolates Day! What chocolate are you nibbling on today? I am going to share my chocolate(s) that I am celebrating today, and that would be Butlers Chocolates. They are a favorite of mine! I even want to say this blog has some early roots in sharing the love of Butlers Chocolates in one of the first posts made here!

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It’s true! I have bars hidden in my cupboards and I always forget that I stash them from the children. When I find a bar hidden amongst the items in my cupboards it’s like I have hit jackpot! And then… I hope… that a child is not near by when I make my discovery… because yes… I really don’t want to share! I’m so bad!

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And do we all know that Butlers Chocolates originates from Ireland? So, really, I suppose I am celebrating “International” Chocolates Day! ¬†Butlers Chocolates isn’t all chocolates, they make a variety of products:

In addition to luxurious milk, dark and white speciality chocolate assortments, Butlers Chocolates produce creamy toffee, soft fudge, deliciously moreish chocolate filled and solid chocolate bars, enticing milk chocolate truffles delicately flavoured with famous liquors, hot chocolate and enchanting seasonal collections at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter!

Source: Butlers Chocolates (Our Heritage)

Speaking of CHRISTMAS, these chocolates make awesome stocking stuffers, host and/or hostess gifts, or a perfect gift to pass around the office during the holiday season.

Have you tried Bulters Chocolates before? If so, tell me what your favorite! My inquiring mind wants to know!

We’ve Got Ourselves In a Pickle!

DSC_0001In case you were not aware, it’s National Pickle Appreciation Day! There are a vast variety of pickle facts we’d love to share with you! While our favorite brand at Gourmet International is Hengstenberg, you can see the many different brands of pickles, their origin and company all at the Pickle Packers International website, cutely named: ilovepickles.org.

We are sharing the following facts from that website and what better why to start by talking about the origin of “in a pickle” as stated in our title post today! Shakespeare first introduced that phrase in The Tempest. In the play the quote is read, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” and “I have been in such a pickle!”

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Consumption: How many Americans consume pickles within one year? Well, that answer is 2.5 billion pounds which is 20 billion pickles!  Even more random fact from the site: If you want to reach the moon, it would take 4 billion pickles. Do the math and the amount of pickles consumed in one year could get us to the moon and back more than 2 times! How crazy is that?

World War II Ties: During the days of the war, the United States Government tagged 40% of all pickle production for the ration kits of the armed forces.

Is it a fruit or a vegetable? The United States Government technically classifies pickles as a “fruit” of the vine – much like a tomato, but most people categorize pickles as a vegetable.

What are the more popular varieties of pickles? Dill is considered the most favored variety of cucumber pickle. Other variations and varieties include Sour/Half Sour and Sweet. Let’s explore these varieties a moment…

  • Dill. Herb dill or dill oil is added to impart a distinctive and refreshing flavor. The different types of dill pickles include:
    • Genuine Dill. These pickles are made by the slow “processed” method. Dill weed is added into the tanks during the last stage of fermentation or to the jar after fermentation. These pickles usually have a higher lactic acid flavor than other varieties.
    • Kosher Dill. True “Kosher” pickles are those that have been manufactured and certified in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, and made with dill and garlic added to the brine. The flavor is very popular, more robust than regular dill pickles, so much so, that the name has stuck and kosher dills are the ultimate accompaniment to an overstuffed deli sandwich.
    • Overnight Dill. Cukes are places fresh into brine (which may include a slight amount of vinegar) for a very short time — one to two days. The entire process takes place under refrigeration, and they stay refrigerated when stored and shipped. They bright green pickles taste like fresh cucumbers accented with dill flavor. They are the kind of pickle you usually find at¬†a deli.
    • Other Dills: Include Polish and German Style.
  • Sour/Half Sour. Fresh cucumbers are first placed into a seasoned brine which doesn’t include vinegar. The containers are then refrigerated, and remain refrigerated when stored and shipped. The longer the cucumbers remain in the brine, the more sour they become. Half-sour pickles are extra crispy and keep their fresh cucumber color.
  • Sweet. Sweet pickles are packed in a sweet mixture of vinegar, sugar and spices. The variations include:
    • Bread & Butter. Sweet, thinly sliced pickles made from cucumbers, onions and chopped green or red peppers. They have a distinct, slightly tangy taste. Available in smooth or waffle cut chips or chunks.
    • Candied. These pickles are packed in an extra-heavily sweetened liquid.
    • No-Salt Sweet. These are a relatively new variety of sweet pickle to which no salt has been added. Usually available as chips.
    • Sweet/Hot. The are a “hot” new kind of pickle. They’re made by adding hot spices and seasonings to pickles for a delightful spark of piquant flavor.

Source: ilovepickles.org

You’re probably learning more about the pickle today than you thought you would! And did you know that pickles are identified as on the favorite vegetables of teens per a consumer study that was conducted for the pickle industry.

 

Now how about you? What’s your favorite type of pickle now that you’ve read through all the varieties? I have to say mine would have to be bread & butter. Nothing like the crunch of a nice crisp, bread & butter pickle! Nibble, nibble!

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Homemade Triple Chocolate Ice Cream.

You read that title correctly. Homemade *triple* chocolate ice cream! And I made it! I tried this recipe several years ago when I first received my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker. I made this recipe the other evening with Ghirardelli Baking Chocolate. DSC_0122Do you think making your own homemade ice cream is difficult? It depends on how you make it and what tools you have on hand. For me, my stand mixer is handy with its ice cream bowl attachment. There is some preparation ahead of time, such as preparing the ice cream base at least 24 hours in advance so that the ice cream base is nice and cold. You also have to make sure your ice cream bowl for the stand mixer is frozen cold, once again, at least 24 hours or more. Once those two things are square, and you’ve prepped the stand mixer to GO, you just turn it on, pour in the mixture and watch ice cream happen!

According to Foodimentary, tomorrow is National Sundae Day, so this recipe comes in some good time to prep some ice cream for Saturday!

Please note that this recipe does require a stand mixer with ice cream bowl attachment. Also take note that below is the actual recipe from Kitchen Aid, the only change from my recipe is that the store was out of unsweetened baking chocolate, but I used bittersweet baking chocolate instead.

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A word of note from someone who has made the base of the ice cream before: If you can plan ahead and try to use large glass measuring cups when heating up the items over the stove, the easier it will be to transfer from bowl to stove, and so on. For example, I used a small sauce pan for heating water and my glass measuring cup – in essence, a double boiler. At the very end of all the preparation, I saved the remaining 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream, vanilla and salt in a large mason jar. When I was done mixing all the¬†components in the middle part of the recipe, I just placed all the remaining liquid in the mason jar and mixed from there. It’s also easy storage in the refrigerator and it will be easier to pour the cold mixture into the frozen ice cream bowl mixer. There is a lot of action going on: heating, reheating, and mixing of heated portions. If you can make your life more simple by preparing in advance to avoid spillage and for ease of transferring portions from bowl(s) to pan(s), it would be worth your while, but not necessary to do. I thought I would share this handy hint as I¬†have found myself spilling liquid portions because of carelessness along the way!

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And I have a little added bonus today for you as well! I took some video of the ice cream bowl attachment in action for you all to see! I will admit, it’s just under two minutes, and it does get a tad boring, but you can see the gradual thickening of the ice cream as it churns away in the ice cream bowl attachment.

As this wonderful gourmet journey continues, I hope to continue on with more videos and fun stuff!

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But back to the ice cream… we had the ice cream bowl attachment going for about 15-20 minutes and then scooped the ice cream in a glass container and put it in the freezer overnight. My boys were able to have a small scoop from the ice cream maker itself, but it seems to need an extra blast of freeze in the actual freezer. The flavor and smooth texture of the ice cream is so yummy!

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 2 squares (1 oz. [30 g] each)¬†semi-sweet baking chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 2 squares (1 oz. [30 g] each) unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 bars¬† milk chocolate chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

Directions:

  1. In small saucepan, place 1/2 cup whipping cream, semi-sweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate. Heat over medium-low heat until chocolate melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; set aside. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. In small bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside. Place egg yolks in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and gradually add sugar mixture; mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing on Speed 2, very gradually add chocolate mixture and half-and-half; mix until well blended.
  3. Return half-and-half mixture to medium saucepan; stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy. Do not boil. Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.
  4. Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher, and drive assembly as directed in attachment instructions. Turn to STIR (Speed 1). Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on STIR (Speed 1) for 10 to 15 minutes or until desired consistency, adding milk chocolate during last 1 to 2 minutes of freeze time. Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes, or freeze in an airtight container.

This recipe makes approximately 16 servings.

Check out some of the photos of the process of preparation!

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Treats, Not Tricks, Up Our Sleeve!

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Are you dressing up for the occasion? Are you tricking or are you treating? What are some of your favorite Halloween pastimes or favorite treats? What do I remember from growing up that I loved… let’s see. I used to get dressed up with both of my brothers and we’d stop over at our grandparents house and quick stop in and see them and then we’d head home and trick or treat in our neighborhood. We eventually moved to a very busy street with no real trick or treating adventures to be had, so as we made friends at our new house, we ended up trick or treating in their neighborhoods. I can recall several good Halloween parties growing up and staying out late and bringing home a pillowcase filled with candy! Oh the memories, and ooooh the sore bellyaches I had days after Halloween!

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Now to this day, my own kids trick or treat in the same general area as my husband I did when we grew up. I can tell you, it’s been either super windy, wet, cold or a combination of all of those elements together each year we take the kids out trick or treating! I think I have more fun dressing up in my usual Gumby costume, which makes the adults have a laugh and the youngsters wondering what the heck I am! And as you continue reading, and browse through the images here – you can see I had waaaaay too much fun playing with candy!

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In an earlier blog post, our Vice President, Monica, stopped off at Riegelein in Cadolzburg, Germany. We were able to view some awesome Christmas displays, as well as, some of their more popular novelty varieties. Since it *is* Halloween, we thought we’d share with you some of their Halloween collection! They are super cute, yet very super spooky at the same time!

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Some of these are solid mini chocolates, some are hollow and some are eyeballs filled with milkcream! They are the perfect size and the perfect treat for any of those ghosts and goblins that may show up at your door! We hope you have a safe and happy Halloween! If you are going out, please be sure to dress appropriately and make sure you are visible to other vehicles and people! Trick or Nibble!

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