The Cheerful Chilli Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant, Otley

The Cheerful Chilli Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant and Tea Rooms, Otley Chevin, West Yorkshire

When we first moved to Yorkshire, I did the usual thing of scouring the social networks to find local people and businesses in order to get a feel for the area and find out what’s going on. And when I found that one of the most recommended local restaurants was vegetarian, I was super pleased. I’ve often struggled when eating out, because I tend not to eat meat out (other than when I really know where it’s come from) and I get pretty hacked off when the vegetarian choices are precisely the opposite….a list of one, which means I have no choice at all. Things are further complicated by the fact that my husband doesn’t eat mushrooms or beetroot, which seem to be the staple for many chefs trying to feed veggies. Oh and a salad isn’t a meal…..just because I want to eat veggie doesn’t mean I’m on a health kick! (End rant)

Anyways, pretty excited about the massive choice on offer, we visited The Cheerful Chilli soon after we arrived. It’s a small, family run place, situated on top of the beautiful Chevin Forest Park in an old farm building. It’s fairly casual (no table cloths) but you need to book well in advance if you want to go on a Saturday night as the place is clearly very popular. We’ve now been three times….twice for dinner and once for lunch….and I can thoroughly recommend it.

The menu is varied, although there is a slight Mexican slant….the chilli is their ‘house dish’ and if, like me, your’e into your chimichangas, fajitas, tacos and enchiladas, you won’t be disappointed! From the dinner menu our favourites are the sharing platter starter (seriously yummy and HUGE), the blue cheese burger (yes, this is made from mostly blue cheese, held together with a few breadcrumbs and then topped with melted cheddar!) and the tacos (super tasty and mega satisfying). The puddings are also to die for…the ice cream is home made and AMAZING, and the Chocolate Nemesis is divine.

The lunch menu changes weekly….we loved the vegetarian lasagne and the Moroccan tagine. You can actually visit just for coffee and cake at the weekends (the only time it’s open during the day) and I defy anyone not to enjoy their chocolate Guinness cake, which is clearly a gift from the Gods.

The restaurant offers Bring Your Own Bottle, although their wine list is very reasonable and there are also some great soft drinks to choose from. You can also buy dishes to take away, and they even have a stall at Otley Farmers’ Market too!

It’s a great place to go with friends or family….everything is pretty relaxed and you won’t be stared at for getting a bit noisy and enjoying yourself! We’ve been really impressed by the great value and generous portions (one has to be very careful if hoping to fit in a pudding!) as well as delighted with the choice. There is a good range of vegan dishes, as well as a banquet menu for larger groups. All in all, well worth a visit if you’re in West Yorkshire!

Ems x

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Foodie Friday: Cuban Style Rice

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Adam and I have been meaning to make more new and interesting suppers for weeks. I rather lost my cooking mojo when the hot weather came along and haven’t been bothered to make anything excited for ages. So in the hope of restoring some interest again, we trawled through our cookbooks and planned a few meals for the week.

Last night was a quick and simple dish from the brilliant Spanish cookery book, which was in fact a gift from my lovely Spanish friend many years ago. I can’t say I wasn’t a little vexed to find that what had looked like a really easy dish required no less than FIVE pans (seriously, most of what I cook only needs one so I was less than impressed) but I did manage to reduce this down to three by tinkering with the recipe, and the results were worth the washing up.

Most of the ingredients are things we have in the house all the time, so I can see this becoming a bit of a go-to dish when we’re low on supplies and time, but still want something satisfying to cook. It took me only about 20 minutes to knock together, and rather less time to yum up!

What you will need (to serve two):

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • Long grain rice (however much you’d usually cook for two)
  • 1 large or 2 small bananas, sliced
  • butter
  • 2 large free range or organic eggs
  • salt
  • paprika

How to make it:

  1. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan then brown the chopped onion and two sliced cloves of garlic.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes as well as the thyme, and bring to the boil before simmering for a good ten minutes.
  3. Whilst that’s bubbling away, cook your rice in a second saucepan, adding a whole garlic clove into the water.
  4. Add a little olive oil to a large frying pan and brown a sliced clove of garlic.
  5. Drain the cooked rice and tip into the frying pan, frying just for a couple of minutes.
  6. Plate up the rice and pop it in the oven to keep it warm, and give the pan a quick wipe with a bit of kitchen towel.
  7. Heat a knob of butter in the frying pan, then slowly caramelise your sliced banana in there.
  8. Add the banana to your plated up rice and return to the oven, then give the pan a quick wipe again.
  9. Heat a little olive oil and fry your eggs, seasoning with salt and paprika.
  10. Pour the sauce around your rice and plate up your eggs on top.

Yummy! We couldn’t believe how well all the flavours went together, especially the banana which really makes this dish.

Enjoy!

Ems x

Halloween Recipe: Pumpkin and Squash Soup

With all the pumpkin flesh we carved from our Jack-o-Lantern, I couldn’t wait to make something seasonal and hearty to eat. It always seems a shame to me when people just carve a face onto a pumpkin and let the flesh go to waste. Not in this house though!

Here follows my recipe for pumpkin and squash soup….it has a little bit of a Thai style twist and because it’s thinner than my usual soups (although incredibly velvety) it’s great as a starter. You could of course scoff it with bread for lunch though, which I just did!

What you’ll need to make a batch of eight servings:

  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 butternut squash, in 2cm cubes
  • 1 medium pumpkin, in 2cm cubes
  • 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 thumbs of ginger, grated
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tspn lemongrass paste
  • 2 ltr hot chicken stock
  • 1 tspn Bouillon powder
  • 1 tin of Coconut Milk (don’t forget to shake the tin!)

How to make it:

  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan
  2. Add the onions and soften
  3. Tip in the squash and pumpkin, stir well and cook for around 10 minutes until the onions are browned and the rest starts to soften
  4. Then add the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass paste, season well and cook for a further 5 minutes
  5. Now pour in the hot stock, followed by the Bouillon powder and bring to the boil
  6. Simmer for around 30 minutes until the pumpkin and squash are tender
  7. Remove from the heat and blend well
  8. Stir in the coconut milk, and blend a little more if needed
  9. Return to the heat to ensure it’s all piping hot, then serve

I’ve really enjoyed this soup, perhaps because it’s thinner but creamier than the ones I usually make. We certainly needed the bread to dip into it, although I suspect it’d work really well as a starter before the risotto I’m making for dinner (smoked bacon and pumpkin!). Either way, a very satisfying way to make best use of your pumpkin!

Ems x

Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

There is absolutely nothing flashy about this soup. It’s about as traditional and simple as it gets, but that makes it no less special. There’s something very comforting about a hearty, basic soup, and this one certainly ticks those boxes…..with the added bonus that it’s hardly any work at all! The boyf has even said that it’s the best Leek and Potato soup he’s ever had…..I hope you enjoy it as much as him!

What you will need to make four generous servings:

  • 6  large leeks, sliced into 2cm thick medallions
  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 200g potatoes, chopped into small cubes
  • 1.5 litre hot chicken stock (or vegetable to make it veggie)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Aromat

How to make it:

  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan
  2. Tip in the leeks and stir around
  3. Soften and brown them, then add the potatoes
  4. Stir it through, then add the hot stock
  5. Season well with the salt, pepper and Aromat and bring up to the boil
  6. Simmer for around 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft
  7. Remove from the heat and blend to your desired texture (I like to leave a few bits of leek and potato whole so it’s a little chunky)
  8. Pop back on the heat, and add a little more seasoning to taste, then once it’s piping hot serve up!

Easy huh?! It also freezes well and re-heats fast in the microwave, so it’s perfect for making a large batch to stow away for a rainy / lazy day.

Ems x

Red Pepper Soup Recipe

 

I’ve never been a massive fan of bell peppers. They’re just something to stuff with couscous, or to go in chilli for me. But the boyf loves them, and so we always keep some in.

Chilli peppers are another matter though. Whilst I love a *fairly* hot spicey meal, I’m not great with very hot stuff, and have always been a bit afraid of using fresh chillies. But because I’d bought a load for another recipe recently, I thought I’d be brave and use some in a soup.

To be honest, I am so delighted with this recipe that I’m kicking myself for not making it sooner. I’ve generally turned my nose up at roasted pepper soups because I’m just not that into the peppers, but something magical happened when I turned some into soup. And it’s not just because I topped the lot with bacon and cheese!

What you need to make two servings of my red pepper soup:

  • 6 red bell peppers, chopped into inch-ish squares
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into wedges
  • 2 tbspn olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 red chilli peppers, chopped fine
  • 50ml hot beef stock (or vegetable stock to make it veggie)
  • 1 tbspn Worcestershire Sauce (or mushroom ketchup to make it veggie)
  • 1 tspn Aromat
  • 2 rashers of smoked back bacon, cut into strips (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan to garnish (optional)

How to make two servings of my red pepper soup:

  1. Place the bell peppers and tomato onto a baking sheet, and coat well with half the oil using a brush
  2. Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes at around 200 degrees, until they have softened a little and started to brown
  3. In the mean time, fry the onion in a large saucepan with the remaining oil, and allow to soften before adding the garlic and chilli peppers
  4. Tip the roasted pepper and tomato into the pan, stir round and add the hot stock, the Worcestershire Sauce and Aromat
  5. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, during which time you can fry your bacon if you’re using it
  6. Once the soupy mix is nice and tender, take off the heat and blend well
  7. Pop back on the heat for a minute to ensure it’s piping hot, then serve up with the bacon and a little Parmesan on top

That’s it! A totally yummy soup ready in no time at all! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did if you get to try it!

Ems x

Something on the side…. very easy baked sweet potato chips and broad bean salad recipes

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So the boyf and I are currently on the Weight Watchers diet. We chose it because we don’t have to cut anything out…we just have to cut down a bit! We’re allowed a certain number of points a day each, and some foods ‘cost’ more points than others. What’s great is that things like fruit and most vegetables are ‘free’ and have zero points…whereas things like cake have ‘cost’ lots of points! We’re just about getting the hang of it though, and have learned to fill up on the ‘free’ stuff, whilst reducing things like potatoes, pasta etc.

We fancied falafel for supper last night, and when I went to check how many points it’d cost us, I was a bit put out! I’d thought it would be pretty low in points, but it turns out that just three falafels cost more than half a tin of tuna for example! So, rather than gorge on my usual portion of four plus falafels, alongside piles of rice or pitta bread, I had to get a bit creative….

I’ve been making sweet potato chips this way for ages, the same way I make my regular potato chips in fact. Baking them in just a little olive oil is lots more healthy than frying them, and loads easier too I find. They come out wonderfully crispy on the outside, whilst lovely and soft on the inside. I usually add some seasoning to make them tastier still, but all in all they’re just really simple and quick to make.

For the obligatory ‘something green’ alongside, I raided the fridge and found a lovely big paper bag full of broad beans. We’ve been getting Abel and Cole organic deliveries for a while now, and I love that we get something different each week. Broad beans are one of my favourites though so it’s always exciting finding those in our delivery. I also found a little watercress left over, and a big bunch of spring onions….so there was the basis for my ‘something green’.

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Ingredients for the sweet potato chips….

  • One medium sized sweet potato per person
  • Two teaspoons of olive oil per person
  • A sprinkle of Aromat
  • A sprinkle of crushed chilli flakes

How to make them….

  • Pre-heat the oven to about 200 degrees
  • Peel and chop up your sweet potatoes into nice chunky chips
  • Pour the oil onto a baking sheet and use a pastry brush to spread it all over
  • Tip the potatoes onto the sheet and sprinkle with the Aromat and chilli flakes
  • Now coat them with the oil and seasoning with the brush, mixing them up on the tray and then ensuring they are well spread out
  • Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for around twenty minutes, or until they are golden and crispy…you can test one with a sharp knife to check they are nice and soft
  • Remove from the oven and tray, then place on a sheet of kitchen foil to rid them of excess oil before serving up

Ingredients for the broad bean salad….

  • A handful of broad beans per person, blanched and shelled
  • A large handful of watercress per person, any thick stalky bits trimmed
  • Four or five spring onions per person
  • Two teaspoons of olive oil per person
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • A little dill

How to make it….

  1. Pre-heat your oven to around 200 degrees
  2. Wash your spring onions, remove any browny outer layers, the top and tail them
  3. Then split the spring onions in half, down the length
  4. Spread a teaspoon of oil on a baking sheet (or use some spare space in the tin for the sweet potatoes) and then place the spring onions on it, using a pastry brush to ensure they are coated with oil
  5. Place them in the oven, on a  middle shelf and cook for about ten minutes, or until they crisp up
  6. While they’re cooking, plonk the watercress, broad beans and dill in a large bowl, then pour over one teaspoon of oil and the lemon juice before mixing everything lightly
  7. Once your spring onions are nice and golden and crispy, remove them from the oven, plate up the watercress mix and then serve up the spring onions on top

Done!

I know they’re super easy recipes, but they are dead tasty, and great to go alongside something else more time consuming or complicated perhaps….they’d be lush with a yummy roast chicken breast cooked in tapenade or some lovely marinade. I think they’d also work well as little individual dishes for a sort of tapas spread.

Enjoy!

Ems x

The opening of The Shard….with lasers

Last night we went for a lovely dinner with friends Claire and Matthew, at one of my favourite haunts, Guiseppe’s Italian. The meal was wonderful as always, and we followed it with a drink in the nearby George afterwards (London’s last remaining galleried inn, which dates from the 17th century). From there we had a marvellous view of the South side of The Shard, and knowing that there was shortly going to be a laser show to celebrate its inauguration, Adam and I decided to make our way slowly home via a good spot to stand and watch it all.

We had our cameras with us, so we managed to get some shots of the building lit up from the North side in different colours, with the green flashing lasers which picked out some of the other major landmarks in London, such as Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and The Gherkin. I can’t say I was massively impressed….it wasn’t so much a laser show, as a few flashing lights. It’s a shame they didn’t make more of it, especially as so many people had come out to see it!

Still, we got some decent shots of Europe’s tallest building all in pretty colours…..
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Made with love…. Asian fish parcels

Asian Fish Parcel with Basmati and Wild Rice

As you know, we’ve been loving getting our new fruit and veg deliveries from Abel and Cole, and this week was an especial treat….. As well as some very pretty and delicious aubergine, cherry tomatoes and bell pepper (which all went nicely into a special birthday lasagne for Adam) we received a huge bundle of pak choi…. So, wanting to make sure we got the most from it, we planned a yummy fish supper to use it all up (along with lots of other yummy things).

I learned this trick from an old flat mate, and have loved using this simple method to make delicious fish dishes of all sorts. This one has a bit of an Asian feel, but as you can imagine, you can swap the fish, veg and sauces to your taste (or as I do, just depending on what’s in season and in the cupboard!).

Ingredients….. Enough for two people….

  • 2 cod fillets
  • A large head of pak choi, each leaf sliced into three or four along the length
  • About half a bulb of fennel, sliced finely
  • About a thumb of ginger, finely sliced
  • A large clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • A dessert spoon of Harissa
  • A good drizzle of light soy sauce
  • A drizzle of rapeseed oil
  • A drizzle of lime juice
  • Rice and dark soy sauce to serve

How to make it….

  1. Line a small baking tin with enough tin foil to cover the bottom, as well as over the top, and with a little to spare to seal
  2. Line the foil with the pak choi (reserving a few leaves for later) and half the fennel
  3. Place the fish on top and rub the Harissa into it
  4. Now sprinkle over the rest of the fennel, plus the ginger and garlic
  5. Drizzle it all with the oil, soy and lime juice, then cover with the remaining pak choi leaves
  6. Now bring the excess foil up and around the ingredients to cover them, and scrunch the ends together to seal and make a parcel
  7. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180, on the middle shelf
  8. To check when it’s cooked, open a little of the foil and ensure the fish has gone opaque and the flesh feels firm when poked with a cocktail stick
  9. Once ready, remove all the yummy goodness and serve the lot, as well as the lovely sauce drizzled over it all

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We like ours served with basmati and wild rice, then with an extra drizzle of very dark soy sauce (chicken rice sauce is best if you can get it!)

Enjoy!

Ems x

Made with Love: Springy Broccoli and Leek Soup with Garlic Croutons

So I’ve been meaning to make up some yummy soups for ages, although coming into summer I thought I’d possibly missed the boat! But with our weekly organic veggie boxes coming now, I’ve been inspired to make lots of seasonal veggie stuff.

So on Sunday evening, looking for some proper hearty comfort food, I made this yummy soup in no time at all!

Broccoli and Leek Soup with Garlic Croutons

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Ingredients (makes 3 to 4 generous servings)

  • Table spoon of rapeseed oil
  • Two large leeks, roughly sliced
  • Two small heads (or one very large) of broccoli, floreted
  • 500ml hot chicken stock
  • Tea spoon of Aromat
  • Dessert spoon of Mushroom Ketchup
  • A knob of butter
  • Two slices of granary bread, cut into crouton size morsels
  • Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Shavings of pecorino or parmesan to serve

How to make it

  • In a large sauce pan, heat up the oil, then add the leeks and broccoli
  • Cook until they start to soften, then add the stock
  • Add the Aromat, mushroom ketchup and simmer until the veg is nice and tender
  • In the mean time, melt the butter in a shallow pan and add the garlic
  • Once that’s started to toast a little, add the bread and toast that on both sides
  • Blitz the veg and stock up with a stick blender, or transfer the contents of the pan into a blender
  • Blend until smooth, then season to taste
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the croutons and cheese, adding a little freshly ground pepper on top
  • Enjoy!

Your soup will freeze well too, so you can make up a big batch for super quick, hearty home made meals!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. Mainly Shopping….

So last week I posted some ideas for shopping at the weekend, and so it would have seemed rude not to have spent at least *some* of my weekend shopping too. And so it was that I filled the weekend, mooching about various stalls and windows, as well as some lazing about too of course…..

On Friday night I made my Biryani dish again…. I added a little tumeric and fresh chilli this time and it was lovely. We spent the rest of the evening watching True Blood (now on Season 2) and sorting the stamps I bought in bulk to make things with. Rock and Roll Friday night!

Saturday started with a breakfast of waffles, banana and maple syrup, before I had a pleasant stroll to Bethnal Green. York Hall was hosting the first London A Most Curious Wedding Fair, and I met up with my dear friend (and Bride To Be), Siobhan, to have a snoop about. The hall is really quite charming, and a great wedding venue in itself. There were some great suppliers there too…. I met a couple I know I will want to use. Having seen everything, we took our ease at the tea shop, which was hosted by A Most Curious too, and we drank lovely tea from mis-matched vintage china.

York Hall for the Most Curious Wedding Fair

A friend we met on Bethnal Green Road

About in Shoreditch

About in Shoreditch

Onward from there, we made our way down Bethnal Green Road to Old Spitalfields for their monthly antique and flea market, where we met Adam too. There were some fabulous stalls, and lots that caught our eye. We were ready for another cup of tea by the time we’d made it all the way round, and so Adam took us for a sit down and cuppa at the lovely Bishopsgate Institute.

Old Spitalfields Antique and Flea Market

The Bride To Be

Tea at the Bishopsgate Institute

From there, we walked Siobhan to the station and decided to pop into the Andaz for the Girl.Stole.Vintage fair….. realising as we came up to the foyer that it was nearly 5pm and so we’d missed it all! So it was a quick stop off at Boots for supplies before heading home for another much needed cup of tea.

For dinner, we’d finally gotten round to booking a table at Rosemary Lane, the curious little restaurant just a couple of minutes walk from us. We really have been meaning to go for ages, but the excuse of Adam’s new job meant we had something to celebrate and a reminder to go. And I’m so glad we finally did. The food and service were incredibly impressive, and my starter for one was absolutely exceptional. The experience was too good to get swallowed up by my whole weekend chatting here, so I’ll be writing about it in a separate post soon (watch this space). In the mean time, here is what I ate….

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Pea, Mint and Spring Onion Flan

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Amuse Bouche of Mango, Ginger and Orange

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Rich Lobster Bouillabaisse, White Wine and Chervil

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Hot Chocolate Fondant with Caramel Centre and Orange Ice Cream

Having thought we’d be home by about 9pm, we actually didn’t get back until more like 10:30 (bearing in mind our travel time was just minutes and our table was booked for 7pm)….. it really was brilliant just to spend a whole evening over a luxurious and relaxed dinner though, so I didn’t at all begrudge the time. Still, despite our finishing our wonderful meal with a black coffee, we were pretty ready for bed by the time we got back, and so it was straight into jammies and our books to finish off a great day.

Sunday saw a lovely lie in (well, I’d walked about a lot on the Saturday). I’ve been hankering after some spicy Deep South style food ever since we started watching True Blood, so we sat in bed flicking through Jamie’s America recipe book, planning dinner. We finally whittled it down to four dishes (which I’ll make over the whole week to get the craving out of my system) and so once we’d added the ingredients to our shopping list, we headed out for breakfast. We’ve not been to our local cafe at all this year, in fact not since the very start of December. So we didn’t feel too naughty scoffing our big fry-ups. Poppies Diner is just as close as Rosemary Lane, and an awesome find. The menu is very much traditional greasy spoon, but the whole place has been decked out in Hollywood ephemera and 1950s american diner touches. The food is great, and the tea excellent (loose leaf no less), but I don’t suppose it would do to make too much of a habit of this for breakfasts.

Next was the weekly shop to Waitrose…. and it is certainly true that it’s better to shop if you’ve just eaten lots…. we came out without all the little naughty additions we usually do and settled for a pot of tea when we got home. We completed the cross word as usual over our tea, and then settled on the sofa with our books for the afternoon.

Before long though it was time to start preparing dinner…. we’d opted for the Cajun Alligator with Sweet Potato and Salsa (although we’d bought some lovely pork loin in lieu of the alligator). We started by marinating the meat and leaving that for a few hours, before roasting our potatoes (with skin on, like jacket potatoes) and making the salsa. It’s one of the simpler and quicker meals we’ve tried from the book, and so in no time we were yumming up the amazing dish, along with a nice cold beer.

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Home made salsa with green tomatoes, spring onion, parsley and cider vinegar

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Cajun Alligator with Sweet Potato and Salsa

After that, it was time for a film….. I’ve been super keen to get Troll Hunter on Blu-ray after we saw it at the cinema and was aching to watch it again. So, we snuggled up on the sofa and ended the night shouting Trooooolllllll (if you haven’t seen it you really must) before cosying up in bed with books and Horlicks. Lush.

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Troooooolllllll!!!!