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Family Matters: Only Use Car for Emergency

The other weekend, my husband and I went out of town with some friends to hear Mat Kearney in concert at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas.

We had been planning the night away for months, which meant we had also painstakingly arranged for our boys to stay with friends while we were gone.

But as the date approached, our 15-year-old son decided he was old enough to stay home alone, and thus began his campaign to convince us that he indeed could handle any possible problem that could come his way.

I now know he is destined to be an attorney, God help him. I’ve never heard any trained lawyer more eloquently or determinedly develop a rational argument to explain why his or her side is the right one.

If only all attorneys approached their work with such determination and passion!

Well, either way, he wore us down. By Friday he convinced his father and I that he was up to the task. We decided this was one of those moments we needed to listen to him and give him an opportunity to be responsible. We didn’t tell him that we had every neighbor in a three-mile radius checking on him and checking in with us all night long.

I should also tell you we have a 100-pound German Shepherd who would kill anyone who tried to enter our home unannounced. So, all in all, we thought we were good to go.

Apparently, our 13-year-old son stopped in that night to get a change of clothes while the older one was still at baseball practice. When we got home the next morning, we found this note from the younger to the older on the kitchen counter:


And here all this time I was worried they would simply forget to brush their teeth and say their prayers.

All joking aside, my boys are great, and I don’t have to worry about these things in their lives just yet. But it’s a much harder world than when I was their age, so I think I will choose to be grateful for each day with no pot…or beer…or girls.

Parents are Gone Pepperoni Bread
(OK, you know as well as I do he ordered Domino’s. If I were home, we would have this homemade!)

12 Rhodes™ Dinner Rolls or 1 Loaf Rhodes™ Bread Dough, thawed & risen
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
4 ounces sliced pepperoni
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Spray counter lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Roll loaf or combined dinner rolls into a 12×18-inch rectangle. Combine butter with seasonings. Brush mixture on dough, reserving a small amount to brush on top later. Arrange pepperoni on top of seasoning mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly roll style. Tuck ends under and place, seam side down, on a large sprayed baking sheet. Using a sharp serrated knife cut several vents in the top. Brush with reserved seasoning mixture. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Remove wrap and bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes.

Shop the Sale: Bacon and Eggs

I’m not much of a breakfast eater, but I love bacon and eggs. So how do I get my fix? At lunch, brunch, and even supper.

This recipe for an Italian-style frittata may sound breakfast-y,  but the texture and heaviness of a frittata works well at other meals. At brunch, pair it with a fruit salad dressed with yogurt; at lunch or supper, a nice green salad with an oil-and-vinegar dressing works well.

With special prices this week on Food Club large eggs and Brookshire’s thick-sliced bacon, there’s no better time to try expanding your egg-dish repertoire. A frittata, by the way, is simply kind of a cross between an omelet and a quiche. The ingredients that would normally be the filling of an omelet is mixed in with the eggs, and the whole thing is finished in the oven like a quiche, except there’s no crust.  So, you may want to warm up some crusty French bread or yeast rolls to round out the meal.

If you prefer, you can substitute four ounces of pork sausage for the bacon. (And lucky for you, Owens country sausage, in both mild and hot, is also on sale at your neighborhood store this week.) Just cook the sausage as you would the bacon, and use the reserved fat to brown the potatoes.

Look for more egg dishes in the April issue of Celebrate Cooking, in stores soon!

Bacon, Cheddar and Potato Frittata
Serves 2

6 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces bacon (about four slices), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/3 cup)
2 green onions, sliced thin on the bias

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Whisk eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper in medium bowl until well combined. Set mixture aside.

Fry bacon in 10-inch nonstick  skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Pour off bacon fat from pan, leaving 1 tablespoon of bacon fat behind. Add potatoes to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender.

Stir cheddar, green onions, and bacon into eggs and add egg mixture to skillet and cook, using spatula to stir and scrape bottom of skillet, until large curds form but eggs are still very wet, about 1 minute. Shake skillet to distribute eggs evenly; cook without stirring for 30 seconds to let bottom set.

Place skillet in oven until frittata has risen about 2-3 minutes; when cut into with paring knife, eggs should be slightly wet and runny. Remove skillet from oven and let stand 5 minutes to finish cooking.

Using spatula, loosen frittata from skillet and slide onto platter or cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve.

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Healthy Living: Meatless meals

Have you ever heard of a movement called Meatless Mondays? It’s an idea, created in association with the Johns Hopkins University public health school, to help Americans cut back – just a little – on the amount of meat they eat.

The idea isn’t to turn you vegetarian. Instead, it’s to help you reduce your meat consumption just a little bit, by about 15 percent – in the interest of improving your overall health, especially heart health.

Going meatless occasionally has a vaunted historical past in this country. During both world wars, Americans participated in voluntary meatless days, to help ration expensive meat and assist the war effort. The season of Lent – when many people already try to avoid meat at least one day a week for religious reasons – is a good time to give it a try.

And no, it does not have to be Monday – fit it into your schedule when it works for you!

One meal at a time: If a whole day without meat seems too drastic for you or your family, choose just one meal to start – perhaps breakfast or lunch instead of dinner.

Go ethnic: Many ethnic cuisines, including Chinese, Thai, Indian and Middle Eastern, are especially rich with vegetarian options, such as curries, stews, soups, and stir-fries. Serve with rice or pasta and you have a complete meal.

Make simple substitutions: Serve dishes you like, but leave out the meat. For instance, try veggie fajitas, but with big strips of portabello mushrooms in place of the chicken or steak. Serve pasta with a simple white sauce instead of meatballs, or add extra peppers, carrots and mushrooms into your marinara sauce instead of hamburger. Use spinach instead of meat in lasagna.

Add beans: Beans are not only a great protein source, but they’re filling and satisfying. And in some dishes (chili, bean and ham-less soup) you may not even miss the meat. Experiment with different kinds of lentils, split peas and beans to find new favorites.

Spice it up: Many recipes depend on meat for a depth of flavor. When you cook without it, you may find you need to add extra herbs and spices to kick up the taste – perhaps half again as much.

Eggs and cheese: If you were going vegan, these would be off-limits. But if you simply want to eat less meat, egg and cheese dishes like omelets, frittatas and quiche offer familiar tastes for brunch, lunch or even a light dinner.

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Product Talk: Picnic Fried Chicken Gets a Makeover

It’s amazing how much weather affects our feelings. I don’t know how people in places like Buffalo or Chicago survive their winters, rarely glimpsing the sunshine or enjoying outdoor fun several months of the year.

I love the fact that in our part of the country it’s not unusual to be in shorts in the middle of January, and by March, my kids are ready to swim.

One of the first things we like to do when the sun hits the sky is to eat outdoors as much as possible. We might pack a picnic for the lake or simply sit on the patio with friends and enjoy the first blue skies and gentle breezes of spring.

I grew up in a time when warm-weather picnics meant fried chicken – no questions asked…but these days, fried food is not something I want to feed my family very often. We still have my cast-iron, buttermilk-brined fried chicken every now and then in the summertime during fried okra season, but otherwise, I have tried to find healthier ways to enjoy the crunch and juiciness of good ol’ picnic fried chicken.

This fried chicken recipe is actually baked, but you won’t miss a thing. It’s the perfect recipe when you have half a bag of corn chips left in the pantry and need to use them before they get stale. Don’t leave out the cumin and chili powder…you’ll love the flavor and aroma.

And just like the real deal, these drumsticks are also delicious the next morning when you open the fridge looking for that one piece of leftover cold fried chicken, although from experience, I can tell you that you might want to double the recipe if you’re planning on enjoying any leftovers.

Tortilla Chip Crusted Chicken Drumsticks

8 ounces corn tortilla chips
4 teaspoons chili powder, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 6)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place corn chips, 2 teaspoons chili powder, cumin and salt in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, then transfer to a shallow dish. Whisk egg and remaining 2 teaspoons of chili powder together in a bowl big enough to hold one drumstick. Dip drumsticks in egg and allow excess to drip back into the bowl. Coat with crumbs, turning and pressing crumbs to help them stick. Place on baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Easily doubled.

Dine-In: Warm Cookie Sundaes

It didn’t dawn on me until too late that graduating college would mean no more Spring Break. This loss might have been enough incentive for me to stay in school and go for a Ph.D., but then again, the fact that it didn’t occur to me that school holidays don’t follow you throughout life probably shows I am not a strong doctoral candidate.

Fast forward 22 years and I’ve managed to still sneak in a few great Spring Break trips here and there, but this year between my work and the boys’ school baseball games, my family just can’t find the time to get away.

So…I am trying to convince them that we will enjoy what the world now calls a “staycation.”

My teenage sons are all for the sleeping late part of the plan, but after that, I’m having to use my imagination to help them believe Tyler, Texas, is as fun as oh, say, Breckenridge, Colorado.

Without snow, snowboards and snow bunnies, I am not having much luck. However, I do know one thing teenage boys love, no matter where we are. Food.

To try and make the week more fun, I thought I would cook some of the boys’ favorite foods  from vacations we’ve taken over the years. We discovered an affinity for fried grouper sandwiches one time down in Florida. Shrimp and grits in South Carolina. Steak and cheese sandwiches in Philly. You get the idea.

Tonight, I’m making Warm Cookie Sundaes we enjoyed on a trip to Colorado one March. I like to make homemade cookies and hot fudge, but the world won’t come to an end if you decide to buy refrigerated cookie dough and hot fudge sauce in a jar. Either way, these sundaes are warm, gooey, delicious and full of happy memories.

It’s the perfect way to end a family…staycation.

Warm Cookie Sundaes 

6 Chocolate chip cookies (recipe below makes about 18, so you’ll have leftovers )
1 (half-gallon) Goldenbrook Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (you’ll have leftovers)
1 cup Hot Fudge Sauce (see recipe below)
1 cup purchased Food Club frozen whipped topping, thawed 

Place individual warm cookies in bowls. Top with scoops of ice cream, warmed hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. So easy!


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (chunks are even better!) 

Combine flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter, sugars and cinnamon until thoroughly blended. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla. Using the lowest speed possible, add dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate dough until ready to use.  

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325°F. Shape cookies into 1/3-cup size balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, at least 2 1/2-inches apart. Bake 12 minutes for gooey cookies, 15 minutes for more well done. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool or to your sundae bowls. 

Hot Fudge Sauce:
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, salt and chips to a low boil, stirring constantly. Simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm. Store leftovers in refrigerator up to two weeks.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Natural pet foods

When it comes to pet food, a big trend the last few years has been a growing consumer interest in more natural, wholesome pet foods. This makes a lot of sense: Many of us are more interested in eating more natural, organic, fresh foods, so why wouldn’t we want the same thing for our four-legged family members? And because pet obesity rates have been growing sharply, many of us have become more vigilant about watching exactly what is going in those food bowls.

One in five pet owners even admits to purchasing human foods to feed their pets, according to a recent national pet owner’s survey. But you don’t have to go that route: More companies are responding to the demand for healthier pet foods by developing natural, high-quality foods and treats.

Check out some of these wholesome options, available at most Brookshire’s stores, unless noted otherwise:

Freshpet:  This company uses high-protein meats and eggs, real grains and veggies, and no byproducts or artificial preservatives in its dog and cat foods. Its philosophy is that pets benefit from eating fresh, minimally processed foods, just like humans do. These refrigerated foods include Freshpet Select slice-and-serve rolls, Home-style cups, prepared Roasted Meals for dogs and cats, and Dog Joy treats. Available at select Brookshire’s and Super 1 Foods, plus FRESH by Brookshire’s.

Nurture Heavenly Harvest Holistic Dog Food: This food is notable for what they do use – healthy natural grains, veggies, fruit and herbs – as well as what they don’t. (No corn, wheat or soy meal; no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or excess water.) Developed for owners interested in a healthier, holistic lifestyle for their pets, the natural food includes a unique vegetable and herb blend that promotes digestion, plus natural antioxidants that assist in the aging process.

Purina ONE Beyond: Dog kibble and cat food with real meat, whole grains, and all-natural nutrient and whole grains, to provide all-natural nutrients. Keeping with the natural theme, Purina has adopted several sustainable practices in making this food. For instance, it comes in packages made from 92 percent renewable materials, printed entirely with vegetable-based soy inks, which are also more renewable than other inks.

Milkbone Healthy Favorites: These biscuits are made with real beef, rolled oats, flaxseed and carrots, but no corn, soy or artificial preservatives.  Corn and soy can cause allergic reactions or digestive issues in some dogs, even in small amounts as they’d get in a treat, so this may be a healthier option for your pet.

Shop the Sale: Grateful for Green Chiles

The other day, I went out to eat for lunch and ordered a green chile chicken sandwich. I’ve had green chile cheeseburgers before, but for some reason I had never thought to put it on my grilled chicken sandwiches. It was love at first bite, and I wanted more.

I spent some time playing in my kitchen, trying to perfect the flavors of the sandwich I had enjoyed at the restaurant, which of course involved a return visit or two for “research.”  After a few more sandwiches, I think I’ve gotten fairly close to recreating the delicious marinade, which provides the perfect balance to the green chiles and cheese.

I’ve also thrown in a great oven-baked potato wedge recipe for you. I love French fries but try hard not to fry food very often. These satisfy my craving for French fries without too much guilt. I like to dip mine in spicy ketchup or spicy Ranch dressing. The spicier, the better!

And the best part of this meal just may be the price. This week at Brookshire’s, the three-pound bag of Pilgrim’s boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale, as well as the Wright Brand Sliced Bacon, a 10-pound bag of Harvest Club Russet potatoes, Kraft Mayonnaise and Food Club Charcoal Briquets. This is definitely the time to try something new!


Green Chile Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges

4 Pilgrim’s boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 /4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
4 slices Wright brand sliced bacon, cooked and cut in half
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
Toppings: Kraft Mayonnaise, avocado, leaf lettuce, ripe tomato, red onion

Place one chicken breast at a time in a large resealable plastic bag and close. Gently pound chicken to flatten to 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with each breast and then place all four breasts back in the bag. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, honey and olive oil and mix well. Reserve ¼ cup of marinade and pour the rest over the chicken. Seal bag and make sure chicken is coated well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour. Meanwhile, prepare grill with Food Club Charcoal Briquets to medium heat.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and discard marinade and plastic bag. Grill chicken, turning and basting with reserved marinade until juices run clear, about  7 minutes.  Remove from grill and place on platter. Top each breast with 1/4 of the green chiles, one slice of bacon cut in half, and one slice of cheese. Tent with foil to allow cheese to melt. When ready to serve, top each sandwich as desired with mayonnaise, avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion. Serve warm with Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges.

Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges

4 large Harvest Club Russet potatoes, washed and dried
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for less spicy version)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each potato into about 8 long wedges.  Place oil, smoked paprika, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Toss in potatoes and seal. Shake well to evenly coat potatoes. Transfer potatoes to baking sheet, making sure the peel is on the pan. Bake until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.

Healthy Living: Whole-wheat corn muffins

When it comes to eating more healthily, I’m a big believer in incremental changes. It’s hard to give up meat cold-turkey, or replace every potato chip with a carrot stick – but a few, smaller choices, made daily, will have a big difference in your overall  diet.

Take whole grains. Add just a bit of whole-wheat flour into your favorite recipes, and your family may not even notice the difference – but you will know.  A cup of whole-grain, whole-wheat flour has an average of 15 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein.  A cup of all-purpose white flour has an average of just 3 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein.

This recipe for whole-grain corn muffins uses both whole-wheat flour and a little bit of white, to maintain a texture similar to regular cornbread. If you can, try using stone-ground cornmeal. This kind of old-fashioned cornmeal is a little coarser than regular cornmeal, because the hull and germ of the corn have usually been left in during the grinding process. That means you are getting still more whole grain!

These muffins are delicious served warm with a little honey for breakfast; you can freeze leftovers so you can grab one for breakfast on your way out the door.

Whole-wheat corn muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 cups cornmeal (stone-ground if available)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One half stick butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
Baker’s sugar, for tops (optional)

Pre-heat oven to350 degrees . Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners OR spray cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In large mixing bowl, stir together cornmeal, both types of flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter in medium microwave-safe bowl. Let cool slightly, at least five minutes. Then, stir in honey, eggs and buttermilk, mixing well to combine.

Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir gently, just until well-mixed. Small lumps are OK.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle each with a few grains of coarse baker’s sugar, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and centers appear done. Serve warm.

Product Talk: Expanding K cup choices

When those single-serve coffeemakers first came out, everybody loved their convenience and the fact that you could brew a single, gourmet, coffeehouse-quality cup in just seconds. The only drawback?  A somewhat limited selection of flavors available in the K-Cup capsules made for these systems.

But that has changed. We now carry nearly 20 different kinds of K-Cups that work in your single-serve system. And we don’t just have coffee – now you can also get tea and cocoa, in those same convenient little pods.

This has changed because Keurig, the company behind the popular single-serve brewing systems, has begun licensing that technology to other manufacturers. That has opened the door to other companies,  including Folger’s and Starbucks, both of which now create their own K-Cups.

The selection is likely to grow even more in the near future, because the patent on the K-Cups is due to expire later this year.

In the meantime, I totally understand why these systems have gotten so popular. No beans to grind or scoop; no mess to clean up. You don’t end up with more coffee than you’ll drink, or have to settle for warmed-over coffee that was left in the pot. You get one, perfect, fresh cup every time. One more thing: Because you’re brewing it yourself at home or in the office, it’s just a fraction of what you’d pay for a similar quality cup in a restaurant or a coffee shop.

If you’ve been on the fence about investing in a single-serve brewer, the new, wider selection of beverages may just win you over. For instance, we stock both black tea and green tea pods,  Green Mountain Coffee chai latte, Newman’s Own special blend coffee, and Folger’s Gourmet Caramel Drizzle.  Recently, we started carrying three new K-Cups from Starbucks – Sumatra, House Blend, and French roast.

All of these work exactly the same as the K-Cups you’ve been using: Put in a pod, push a button, and seconds later, enjoy your personal hot beverage. It’s a sure way to start – or end – a day on a good note.

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Posted in: Product Talk

Dine-In: Springtime Pasta Salad

OK, it’s not officially spring yet, but with daylight savings time starting this weekend, it’s sure starting to feel like it. So here is a spring-inspired pasta salad –chock-full of colorful, fresh vegetables. This is perfect for a light supper or lunch, or a healthy side dish, as the days grow warmer.

One of the reasons I like this recipe is that it’s very flexible. Don’t have penne pasta? Use whatever you have around the house. Bowtie (also known as farfalle), shells or even plain old elbow macaroni also work just fine. And, you can add or substitute other vegetables according to taste or, again, what you have on hand. Asparagus, snow peas, broccoli or fresh mushrooms would all be good here– just think about a mix of colors, shapes and textures.

Springtime Pasta Salad


1 lb penne rigate pasta (or any pasta of your liking)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 red onion, cut in half and julienned (cut into thin strips)
1/2 of a 6 oz bag baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced black olives, kalamata olives, or green olives, pitted (your choice)

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
4 TBS lemon zest
2 TBS Dijon mustard
2 TBS sugar
4 TBS fresh chopped tarragon
4 TBS minced fresh garlic
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and then rinse under cold running water to chill. Place pasta in large mixing bowl. Add vegetables to bowl and set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour over pasta and veggies. Toss to coat. Can be served immediately, or chilled to serve the next day.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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