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Camping, Princess Style


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This morning's work: putting the fruit from the Fort Davis grocery store into my darling's new batch of breakfast fruit salad. I still have some dates left from last spring's trip to the Oasis Date Gardens. They'll be finished soon. I hope I'll be able to get more when we pass that way, assuming we pass that way. At the lower right of this picture is the garbage I generated. It's nice to be someplace where garbage disposal and pickup are easy!

 

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There are a lot of places we normally visit when we arrive in Tucson. Clearly, we'll be skipping many...but I had been looking forward to making a trip to Barrio Bread. Their sourdough bread is made from locally-grown heritage grain blends, and it's outstanding. I wanted a loaf for Thanksgiving. I also wanted to stock up on their Barrio Blend of flour.  Don, the owner, has been very careful about Covid-19 since the very beginning. The trip could have been made safely, with good social distancing, and I'd have been helping support the local economy. Don has been a leader in the "support the local restaurants with takeout" movement since last spring.

 

But. The bakery is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:00 am until noon or they run out. We'd have had to get in the pickup and drive there this morning. Neither of us could bear the thought. We plan to leave Tuesday, although that's subject to change. I'll just have to dream of his breads, keep slugging away at his bread-baking course, and hope that Hayden Flour Mills, which does mail order, can provide me with the right flour. @blue_dolphin indicated some time ago that it's similar.

 

It's just too pleasant sitting here in the Princessmobile, listening to quail calling as they wander through, and working on other projects, to want to drive anywhere today.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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3 minutes ago, Darienne said:

My favorite memory of Tucson is the wonderful zoo and arboretum.  I'll never forget seeing a Boojum tree.  I hope you get a chance to do that.  Do let me know. 

 

The Boojum tree is astonishing, and the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum is a wonderful place. I don't know that we'll go this trip, although we're members. Of course most of the action is outdoors, but it can be difficult to avoid crowds. I'll certainly post about it if we go.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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As always - interesting vistas. Have you seen the adverts that the major hotels collaborated on? Show family (theoretically in a pod/tested) checking into a luxury hotel and having a version of "staycation" - the RV surge you mention brought it to mind. 

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3 hours ago, Smithy said:

 

The Boojum tree is astonishing, and the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum is a wonderful place. I don't know that we'll go this trip, although we're members. Of course most of the action is outdoors, but it can be difficult to avoid crowds. I'll certainly post about it if we go.

Hope you get to the Desert museum. I love that place! Haven't been in years. The Heard Museum in Phoenix is truly amazing for Native American artifacts. No idea what their covid restrictions are. Most magical time of year in Arizona and NM. Look for big hawks on telephone poles!

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The leftover "extras" from Cooper's finally were incorporated into dinner last night: a panade based on a recipe in Judy Rogers' Zuni Cafe Cookbook. (You can read more about that particular recipe, and find a link to a blog post summarizing it, here. As it happens I have a Kindle version of that cookbook and used it as a guide.)

 

One reason it's taken me so long to do something with that leftover bread is that by the time the afternoon heat rolls around I'm too hot and dispirited to do anything in the kitchen. My darling has done most of the dinner cooking as a result. 

 

So yesterday I got smart. Before it got too hot I set to clearing out the refrigerator and finding what needed to be put into the panade. Fennel bulb, half a pickled onion, a pickled jalapeno, 8 slices of white bread (including a heel), 3 onions, a bunch of chard, a wilting bunch of scallions, a chunk of sharp cheddar, some grated parmesan. A red pepper was too far gone to use, more's the pity. I set to work washing, chopping, dicing. I pulled some corn stock out of the freezer to thaw.

 

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Then I took a break, mixed a fresh batch of salad dressing, and had lunch.

 

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The rest of the afternoon was devoted to non-cookery. After our evening walk...

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...and some time out on the deck enjoying a beer, I set to work cooking.

 

This photo collage shows sort of a time-lapse of what happened to all those vegetables. The large plastic bowl, barely visible in the upper left corner, was nearly full when I started. By the time I'd finished sweating it down and caramelizing, I was thinking about the discussion here about Vivian Howard's R-Rated Onions.

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The result was a very filling meal.

 

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We had intended the panade as the vegetable side for leftover pork steaks from the night before, but neither of us needed or wanted more to eat. The astute observer will note that my darling still insisted on toasted bread with his panade, but that's the way he swings. We'll probably have leftover panade and leftover pork steaks tonight, but who knows? It's shopping and errand time today, so dinner will be simple.

 

Edited by Smithy
corrected spelling of Ms. Rogers' first name (log)
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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Yesterday we ventured into town to get the rest of the supplies needed for Thanksgiving, and to refuel the truck. The little mountain pass between our county park and the main part of town makes for interesting driving. This is not the way we go with the trailer in tow. In fact, the road is marked "no trucks or trailers" with good reason, although a truck pulling a small travel trailer was coming up the pass when we were going down. We didn't see it on our return trip, so the driver must have gotten through without blocking traffic.

 

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So many places I like to visit had to be left off the list this trip, because of the shortness of our stay and/or because of pandemic restrictions! But we did make it to the Babylon Market. This Middle Eastern grocery store, founded by a couple of Iraqi brothers, has grown over the years and been a favorite stop of ours. I wondered how well they were weathering the pandemic. Pretty well, as it turns out. They had the plastic shields and markings on the floors that we have come to expect, but I saw no evidence of weakened business or short supplies. In fact, they're relocating (and, I assume, expanding) their little restaurant. The unfortunate thing about that is that we couldn't get the shawarma wraps or the tabbouleh that I'd so looked forward to enjoying. They have a very small section of fresh produce, and an enticing Halal meat counter, and an ever-expanding selections of spices, preserves, rice, Asian goods, cooking utensils. I've written about this place before and didn't take many photos this trip, but here's a small sampling.

 

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The Fry's grocery store where we did our main shopping had gaps in their supplies, as many grocery stores do at the moment: paper goods, cleaning supplies were all marked as "one per shopper per day". I don't know whether they were really enforcing it. We didn't need any of those items.

 

Back over Gates Pass we went, and were surprised to find a stiff breeze when we got back to camp. It had been calm in town. A cold front was moving through.

 

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I unpacked and stowed the groceries. The only thing I thought worth photographing was the haul from Babylon Market. I just had to try some of those prepared quick marinades - a new offering since our spring trip. The cheese and spices are a usual purchase for us, as well as the fresh yeast. Yay! My old stuff was losing its oomph.

 

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Dinner last night was leftovers: pork steak and panade, both reheated gently in the microwave. It was a very brown meal, but we liked it.

 

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There's still some panade left, so I look forward to giving it the fry-pan treatment from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. I thank @Anna N for reminding me of that in this post.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Roughly 30 miles east of Yuma lies the little town of Dateland, Arizona. It has a distinctive look from the freeway: a compact grove of dates, just south of a freeway exit, rising from otherwise undeveloped land. We've always wondered about it but never stopped until yesterday. There a bit of history there, of which we were unaware: originally a water stop for the trains; General Patton's troops trained in the area....for more information please see this page. Since we began the Princessmobile routine we've visited the Oasis Date Gardens in California because they were close to one of our camping spots and made an easy day trip. This year, we don't know whether we'll be going that way - nor whether the Oasis Date Gardens' shop will be open if we do. (The charming sample room, shop and cafe are closed for now, except to prepare date shakes to go.) So we stopped briefly at Dateland.

 

Dateland has quite a different look than the Oasis Date Gardens. There's an RV park nearby. The cafes and shops are all in a modern Travel Plaza. The cafes include a Pizza Hut and something else I've forgotten, along with an ice cream vendor. Fuel pumps are part of the plaza.

 

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In fact, the cash register receipt for my eventual purchases read "Dateland Petroleum"...not a very appetizing idea. I'm glad I didn't see that before going inside!

 

The shop has some nice handcrafted items, jewelry, non-food things...

 

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...but I was really there for the dates. And boy, do they have dates!

 

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There must have been a dozen varieties. There were many varieties familiar to me from the Oasis Date Gardens, as well as a couple of new ones. One description noted that there's a single tree of that variety in their grove, and they don't know what breed it is, and invited anyone who knew to tell them. Another variety came from only 2 trees in the grove.

 

What I found somewhat disappointing was that all the dates came packaged, and there were no samples. However, that's probably why this company could be open safely and the Oasis Date Gardens are currently closed. I picked up packages of the varieties I know we like. I also grabbed a box of their walnut-stuffed medjool dates. (I meant to grab the pecan-stuffed dates, and just now discovered my mistake. No matter, they'll be good too.) They may be an appetizer, or dessert, for tomorrow's feast.

 

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A small date shake finished the purchase, and we shared it on the way west toward Yuma.

 

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How often do you have a milk shake so thick that it only slowly drains back down through the straw? If we lived closer, those shakes could become a habit.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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35 minutes ago, Shelby said:

I WANT A DATE SHAKE.  And, some of those dates.

 

The shakes I can leave but tasting different dates that are moist and have so many nuances is something I miss from my former farmers market (V19 aside). I am still a date molasses/siran virgin though I've had it in dishes by others. You?

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53 minutes ago, Smithy said:

Roughly 30 miles east of Yuma lies the little town of Dateland, Arizona.

Thanks for sharing this. I remember dates from previous trips. I am quite jealous that you have an opportunity to sample so many different varieties and I don’t think I would say no to a date shake either. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

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One of my very favorite munchies is dates stuffed with an almond and wrapped in bacon and baked. Also good to put some sort of hard cheese; I've used manchego and aged gouda. It's good with blue, but that gets runny and leaks everywhere.

 

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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56 minutes ago, heidih said:

 

The shakes I can leave but tasting different dates that are moist and have so many nuances is something I miss from my former farmers market (V19 aside). I am still a date molasses/siran virgin though I've had it in dishes by others. You?

Nope.  I'm pretty much an everything date virgin.  

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

Thanks for sharing this. I remember dates from previous trips. I am quite jealous that you have an opportunity to sample so many different varieties and I don’t think I would say no to a date shake either. 

I love really fresh dates. Medjool are of course good, but my favorite is the Barhi date. When really ripe it has a liquid center. It's good cold. Wouldn't use that variety to stuff, but I too have a weakness for bacon wrapped roasted dates. I had them in Portland OR at a wonderful restaurant, but I've never bothered to make them myself. I like them best stuffed with an almond. We were in Portland during a freak snow storm and the restaurant comped us little glasses of Fernet Jelinek. A great combination, both firsts for me. Just what the doctor ordered.

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1960s California - bacon wrapped dates at every party. Not nut stuffed - probably cream cheese - the "pre brie" soft cheese. Our road trip place was Hadley. https://www.hadleyfruitorchards.com/catalog/dates My favorite was making date bars. We used a mix but this is almost exact. Oatmeal makes it in terms of texture. You must!  https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/date-bars/4b716ead-523c-42eb-b589-e48dc5240c3d

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16 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

I love really fresh dates. Medjool are of course good, but my favorite is the Barhi date. When really ripe it has a liquid center. It's good cold. Wouldn't use that variety to stuff, but I too have a weakness for bacon wrapped roasted dates. I had them in Portland OR at a wonderful restaurant, but I've never bothered to make them myself. I like them best stuffed with an almond. We were in Portland during a freak snow storm and the restaurant comped us little glasses of Fernet Jelinek. A great combination, both firsts for me. Just what the doctor ordered.

 

Barhi is my favorite variety, too. I love its soft squishy texture, and it seems to me to be the ideal date for making pastes. Not that I actually get around to doing that very often...well, maybe I've never done it? But I keep intending to! I didn't see Barhi dates there at Dateland, but the mysterious black dates and Khadrawy are pretty soft.

 

I have got to try roasting bacon-wrapped stuffed dates. I think we'll be making at least one meal of appetizers sometime this trip. It could have been yesterday but we were being lazy in the pre-Thanksgiving windup.

 

16 hours ago, heidih said:

1960s California - bacon wrapped dates at every party. Not nut stuffed - probably cream cheese - the "pre brie" soft cheese. Our road trip place was Hadley. https://www.hadleyfruitorchards.com/catalog/dates My favorite was making date bars. We used a mix but this is almost exact. Oatmeal makes it in terms of texture. You must!  https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/date-bars/4b716ead-523c-42eb-b589-e48dc5240c3d

 

Thanks for that link to Hadley Fruit Orchards! I didn't know about them. Their web site has some interesting recipes.

 

I remember the idea of bacon-wrapped dates from the '60s. Back then, I thought dates only came in those hard bricks with the camel on the label (Dromedary brand?) and didn't know what we were missing. We were only a few hundred miles from the date-growing areas, but up there in citrus and stone fruit country it was another world.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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1 hour ago, Smithy said:

Back then, I thought dates only came in those hard bricks with the camel on the label (Dromedary brand?) and didn't know what we were missing.

I don’t know why but this triggered such a memory! Dates were a Christmas treat when I was growing up in the 50s. I had an uncle and aunt who always had a box of dates on the table at Christmas time. While we kids loved the dates, we were limited to one each, it was what became of the date box that mattered. 
 

it was shaped like this but made of a soft wood, balsa I suspect. After it was emptied of its dates my uncle would create the most amazing doll crib.  I do not recall all the details but I know that he cut the lid of the box such that it made a hood as it were for the crib.  Then his wife, my aunt, would sew and crochet the necessary bedding. Lease would be glued around the hood and the base. Dates and Jaffa oranges! It was a magical time. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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13 minutes ago, Anna N said:

I don’t know why but this triggered such a memory! Dates were a Christmas treat when I was growing up in the 50s. I had an uncle and aunt who always had a box of dates on the table at Christmas time. While we kids loved the dates, we were limited to one each, it was what became of the date box that mattered. 
 

it was shaped like this but made of a soft wood, balsa I suspect. After it was emptied of its dates my uncle would create the most amazing doll crib.  I do not recall all the details but I know that he cut the lid of the box such that it made a hood as it were for the crib.  Then his wife, my aunt, would sew and crochet the necessary bedding. Lease would be glued around the hood and the base. Dates and Jaffa oranges! It was a magical time. 

 

Aaww!  I fought for the woven round basket thing the dried fruits came on and the wooden Sacher Torte box relatives sent. Cake  = "so - so" - box = myriad of possibilities

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42 minutes ago, kayb said:

@Smithy -- Will you be visiting the place where you got my glasses? I may want to place an order....

 

If the US / Mexico border and the state park in Columbus are both open by the time we head back in the spring, I probably will. Right now neither is open, and we're well west of New Mexico. I will be pleased to do more proxy shopping for you, if the stars align properly!

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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It's a couple of days after the hubbub of Thanksgiving, and I have a bit of time to write about where we are and what we did. I posted a summary of the dinner here.

 

We arrived, we thought, in plenty of time to get our usual camping spot, only to find that 6 trailers with 3 family generations had got there first. Not a big deal, as there's plenty of room around here and the area is wide open, but we're surprised to discover that moving a couple of hundred yards has had a major impact on wireless connectivity. It played havoc with our attempted Zoom family call. Oh, well.

 

I puttered around the Princessmobile much of Thanksgiving Day, having done no more advance preparation than making sure we had the supplies. The menu:

  • Prime Rib, brought from home
  • Potatoes 
  • Scalloped corn casserole
  • Green beans - did I want the Italian treatment with gremolata, or the traditional cooked with bacon? Bacon won out
  • Cranberry / orange / walnut salad
  • Fresh bread rolls, using some of last spring's bread flour from Barrio Bread in Tucson

Have I mentioned that the oven only has 1 rack? I wouldn't mind adding another, but I've never found one to fit. Every trailer stove seems to have its own arrangement and sizes. When the oven failed in the previous Princessmobile and we had to replace it, I saved the racks for the new one. Woe was me, they didn't fit! I think those racks are still at home, having been used over a campfire more than once. 

 

This means the competition for the oven, and the timing required, are pretty tight. The green beans were a stovetop item. The bread, corn casserole, roast and potatoes all needed the oven for different times and temperatures. I had initially planned scalloped potatoes, but instead decided to cut and roast them along with the prime rib and let them collect the drippings from the roast. It turned out to be a good move.

 

After the bread dough was mixed and rising, I began hauling out the cooking vessels and utensils I'd need for the rest of the work. A heavy enameled cast iron pot for the green beans, from under the bed. The special covered "all-purpose" roasting pan that I'd bought from Sur la Table a few years back in a moment of retail weakness, from under the office supplies. A 1-quart Corningware baking dish. The food processor for the cranberry salad. The best dinner plates. The Reidel wine carafe I won as a door prize last year. I think it was about then that my darling said, "You know, you'll have to do all the cleanup, because I've never seen this stuff before and have NO idea where it goes."

 

It was actually a fairly relaxed day, since we had no particular timetable for eating. The Zoom family call was a disappointment, but we briefly saw each other's faces and heard each other's voices. It was better than nothing.

 

The dinner-prep steps:

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(Those photos look so much better on my phone than on the screen. Sorry.)

 

The bread steps, with the wine breathing unmolested in the background:

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Dinner:

 

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We didn't actually get to the cranberry salad. It was intended for dessert, but what you see above was a gracious plenty. It has been breakfast since then:

 

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(I do not put Cheerios atop mine, but I confess to the whipped cream, even when there's yogurt with it.)

 

He was pretty funny about the cranberry salad. His family had traditionally made it with a hand-cranked grinder, and he doubted that the food processor could do the job. Now that he knows it can, I think I'll be making a lot more of this as a change from his traditional breakfast fruit salad!

 

The bread rolls make gratifying little sandwiches.

 

20201128_101303.jpg

 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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