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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > The Stouffer’s Report - COVID19 Culinary Experiments

The Stouffer’s Report - COVID19 Culinary Experiments
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subego
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Apr 13, 2020, 07:22 PM
 
All portions considered too small.


Macaroni and Beef: still the gold standard.

Fettuccine Alfredo: workable. You can get the char off in one swipe. Typically, half the noodles aren’t covered in frozen sauce, and that half becomes dry.

Spaghetti and Meatballs: technically, I’d say the Alfredo is better, but for whatever reason the spaghetti isn’t as dry. This despite also having the frozen sauce on one side.

Lasagna: I’m one of those people who like the idea of lasagna rather than the thing itself. It’s usually too dry. I wouldn’t have even gotten it, but Instacart put it in as a replacement. All that said, it was fantastic. Not dry at all, and very little overcooked noodle. Almost beef mac quality.

Still have Mac & Cheese to test. I’ve not liked that in the past, so I haven’t been in a rush.


Phun phact: regular Stouffer’s is like, only a 100 calories more than their Lean Cuisine. Just get the regular stuff.


Bonus Marie Calander’s Chicken Pot Pie: another Instacart replacement. Really good. Excellent crust. Also almost as good as the beef mac.

Bonus Banquet Swedish Meatballs: meh. Rates an “it’s edible”.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 13, 2020, 07:37 PM
 
our prepackaged foods recently have been: tysons chicken fingers, tater tots, frozen burritos, frozen indian food, canned soup. Nary a stauffers. I do recall their lasagna is pretty good.

best frozen mac n cheese: howard johnsons.

seems like instacart is subbing a lot, is that usual or shortages of stauffers?
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 13, 2020, 07:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Still have Mac & Cheese to test. I’ve not liked that in the past, so I haven’t been in a rush.
Mac & cheese is so darned easy to make from scratch.
[set curmudgeon_mode=1]
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 13, 2020, 08:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
seems like instacart is subbing a lot, is that usual or shortages of stauffers?
I’ve only done two orders, and there were substitutes across the board. People I’ve talked to say the same.

This is a Kroger joint, so even when it’s not the apocalypse, stuff isn’t in stock. Here are a couple pics the shopper dude sent me when trying to work out replacements.





Instacart also has lots of room for back-end improvement. Part of the substitution problem is there’s no connection between what’s in stock when you order versus at the time of shopping. In this market, right now there’s a 5 day lag between the two, so it’s really a crap shoot.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 13, 2020, 08:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
Mac & cheese is so darned easy to make from scratch.
I mean, I don’t disagree, but the goals are completely different.

The Stouffer’s takes less than one minute of my attention. This includes clean-up.
     
mindwaves
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Apr 13, 2020, 08:57 PM
 
People eating more carbs. It is good. They are filing and easy to make and store. Only issue is that cooking pasta takes up a lot of water. And al dente pasta is disgusting (to me). Needs to be cooked a few mins longer.
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subego  (op)
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Apr 13, 2020, 08:59 PM
 
I, personally, shouldn’t be eating all these carbs. I’m definitely designed for a low carb diet.

That’s a huge pain in the ass, though.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 14, 2020, 05:10 AM
 
Did the mac and cheese test. Exactly as I remember it.

There’s some unpleasant taste to the cheese. I wish I knew what to compare it to. Hits you in the back of the mouth.

I have a couple Marie Calendar’s Instacart subs still to try.
     
Laminar
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Apr 14, 2020, 01:42 PM
 
We stocked up on frozen chicken and veggies in case the stores actually run out or shut down, we haven't had to dip into those yet. The kids are getting quite a few chicken nuggie meals. Despite our best efforts they're both mildly picky, probably due to the weird shit we like to cook.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 14, 2020, 02:09 PM
 
My plan is to keep cycling the frozen stuff, and if the stores close I break into the easy mac/ramen/MREs.

With the instacart lag, I’ve been placing a new order the moment I get the current order delivered.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 15, 2020, 02:42 AM
 
Bonus Blake’s Shepherd’s Pie: not bad. It’s 22 oz. instead of 12, so the portion is fine. Could use some gravy or something, though.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Apr 15, 2020, 10:08 AM
 
Theres a lot to be said for a bowl of pasta with salt, pepper and butter on it. In a pinch anyway.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 15, 2020, 11:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Theres a lot to be said for a bowl of pasta with salt, pepper and butter on it. In a pinch anyway.
Oh, no question.

In a similar vein, there’s a lot to be said for lack of commitment and effort. Even something as simple as buttered noodles requires paying attention, and makes a mess. I’ll do that for someone else, but for myself? Think of all the shitposting I could do during that time.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 15, 2020, 11:16 AM
 
Necessity is the mother of invention. If I'm going to boil water for pasta, afterwards may as well toss in a can of diced tomatoes, some spinach, some cheese... what else is in the fridge...

For instance, after a costco trip we had too many avocados. Invention = guacablt. Mash one avocado with bacon, diced tomato, 1tb salsa, 1tb mayo, chopped lettuce if you have. Eat with tortilla chips.
     
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Apr 15, 2020, 11:41 AM
 


Now I'm hungry.

One of our favorite pasta dishes came about in a similar way. I was making some rotini pasta with pesto. We had some chicken breasts, so I chopped those up and threw them in. Wife thought peas would add some nice flavor, crunch, and veggie nutrients. Son suggested we add bacon. It's now an official recipe and we make it often. One of the few things everyone can agree on.
     
Laminar
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Apr 16, 2020, 12:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Lasagna: I’m one of those people who like the idea of lasagna rather than the thing itself. It’s usually too dry. I wouldn’t have even gotten it, but Instacart put it in as a replacement. All that said, it was fantastic. Not dry at all, and very little overcooked noodle. Almost beef mac quality.
Seven year old has been binging The Garfield Show on Netflix and asked me what lasagne was. Seems like a good reason to make some. We pulled out the Betty Crocker cookbook and found her recipe. I've been doing one grocery trip per week (with gloves and mask), and this week I stopped at Target since it's on the way home from work. They were 100% out of all pasta minus two types of noodles, and one of those types was oven-ready lasagne noodles. They were out of ground sausage, so I got ground pork. I couldn't find ricotta anywhere, so I got cottage cheese. The fennel was marked as optional, but since I got pork instead of sausage, I definitely used it.



Seven y/o didn't like that I put an onion in it (he doesn't think he likes onions), and the canned diced tomatoes were the big chunks, I didn't get the petite diced like I should have, which he took exception to. Once Wife picked the tomatoes out, he finished his off.

In reality, it was super tasty. I was worried about oven-ready noodles, but they ended up perfect - tender and neither chewy nor mushy. Flavor was great, consistency was great. Overall very pleased with it, we have enough noodles left over to make a second batch, so we'll do it again next week.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 16, 2020, 12:49 PM
 
we found lasagna noodles of various types in the back of the cupboard and will be improvising something this weekend. I do have italian sausage in the freezer, and was able to find ricotta.

Last night's chopped challenge: chicken thighs, jar of artichoke hearts, ~1/2 c sour cream (whatever was left), couple T of cream cheese, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, 1/4c grated parmesan. Kids declared it best ever. The root veggie kugel to go with it... just ok.

Eventually they do grow out of picky stage.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 16, 2020, 12:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Eventually they do grow out of picky stage.
I haven’t. Artichokes? Yukk.
     
Laminar
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Apr 16, 2020, 01:44 PM
 
I don't think I'd ever had artichokes until I tried Papa Murphy's Chicken Bacon Artichoke pizza. Made me a believer.

Visiting California one time, I had smoked artichoke at a BBQ/steak place. They were...fine? Kind of tough/chewy.

     
andi*pandi
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Apr 16, 2020, 03:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I haven’t. Artichokes? Yukk.
I was with you up til my 20s, when someone ordered spinach-artichoke dip at a restaurant. That was transformative. I don't think I'd ever had them until then. Strange weird food.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 16, 2020, 03:34 PM
 
Spinach? Yukk.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 16, 2020, 03:40 PM
 
Basically, anything mixed with enough sour cream and cheese is delightful.
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 16, 2020, 04:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Weird strange weird food.
Artichokes are one of those foods that make me scratch my head and wonder what ever possessed that first person to try and eat one.
[set curmudgeon_mode=1]
     
reader50
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Apr 16, 2020, 05:17 PM
 
I bought a frozen pizza on sale once. Didn't pay attention - it was a "healthy" one, which means cauliflower powder in the crust. It didn't taste like pizza should. I tried to eat it anyway, but the last few slices went in the trash. Coincidentally, it seems to be on sale frequently.

All those green foods that are hard to eat - it's OK. There are still horses around, and they need to eat too. Human food isn't supposed to be green.
     
mindwaves
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Apr 17, 2020, 03:45 AM
 
I wonder if people are going to change their palate because of the virus affects what they can eat and what they can obtain. Potatoes changed Ireland and tomatoes greatly changed Indian cuisine (from India). The humble chili pepper changed Korean food and some Chinese food. A lot of Western food use butter and black pepper on pretty much everything. If these food items were somehow made scarce, then maybe your diet would have to change also and maybe change forever. If water was at somehow a price premium, I would think that people would think twice about making pasta considering how much water is used in the process from cooking to perhaps rinsing.
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subego  (op)
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Apr 17, 2020, 10:29 PM
 
Got Stouffer’s chicken pot pie in today’s instacart. It’s roughly comparable in quality to the Marie Callendar’s, and it’s bigger, so that should be an easy win, but the size difference changes how it cooks. The MC comes out perfectly, but the bottom crust on the Stouffer’s has that “undercooked dough” thing going on, the bane of pies everywhere.
     
ghporter
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Apr 18, 2020, 12:40 PM
 
Frozen meals’ availability is an interesting thing right now, at least here.

Lean Cuisine and the like...plenty available. Marie Calandar, Stouffer’s, and so on (comfort, not-so-healthy for you, etc. foods) are often scarce. I haven’t looked for boxed Kraft Mac n Cheese on the shelf, but I have to wonder if that’s there too - pasta being “in short supply” for some reason.

Frozen pizzas too. One of the things we like to do is get a plain-ish cheese pizza and dress it up with our favorite toppings. (Sidebar: turkey pepperoni is a lot lighter tasting - and a lot less greasy - but we toss on a whole lot of cheeses, so “healthy” ain’t part of the recipe here. ) So we, sadly, haven’t done that lately. The list for our next expedition into people territory (the grocery store) includes a frozen pizza and those toppings we like. I hope we’ll have more success with that than with our quest for vinegar and Lysol spray.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 18, 2020, 07:20 PM
 
Tortillas have been in very short supply here, the same as bread. We go through a lot of tortillas. I’ve tried making my own, but the results haven’t been good. Edible, but not exactly tortillas.
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ghporter
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Apr 19, 2020, 11:36 AM
 
Tortillas take practice. The consistency of the dough, and how hard you work it before rolling it matter. And they are best cooked on a plain, flat griddle that is HOT.

As a therapist that does quite a lot with hands, and who is based in San Antonio, Texas, I get a lot of experience with “this exercise reminds me of making tortillas.” So I use that. But I’ve learned an awful lot about actually making them in the process.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 19, 2020, 05:46 PM
 
I've gotten making cinnamon rolls down pat over the past three weeks, so I have that going at least. But, yeah, I'd love to get tortillas in my repertoire.
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andi*pandi
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Apr 19, 2020, 06:26 PM
 
kid got enamored of a youtube video for souffle pancakes. we don't have pancake rings. Cookie cutters did not work. So we only got... weird non-poofy pancakes. Almost a waste of our precious few eggs, but they tasted good.

Lasagna went well tho.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 19, 2020, 11:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Tortillas take practice. The consistency of the dough, and how hard you work it before rolling it matter. And they are best cooked on a plain, flat griddle that is HOT.

As a therapist that does quite a lot with hands, and who is based in San Antonio, Texas, I get a lot of experience with “this exercise reminds me of making tortillas.” So I use that. But I’ve learned an awful lot about actually making them in the process.
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
I've gotten making cinnamon rolls down pat over the past three weeks, so I have that going at least. But, yeah, I'd love to get tortillas in my repertoire.
There’s a place here I go to who make fresh tortillas and chips. You can even see them being made. It’s kind of a gimmick place, but those are to die for.

Good queso, too.
     
Laminar
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Apr 20, 2020, 08:52 AM
 
Our latest try - we made pizza crust from scratch, leaving some extra bread flour to use up, so I decided to make bread. Somehow decided to try focaccia, which, as it turns out, uses all purpose flour. But by the time I figured that out I was committed.

The recipe starts by heating olive oil with rosemary and garlic to infuse it with some flavor. Then some mixing, kneading, rising, and more rising. Two y/o enjoyed poking holes in the break for the olive oil to sit in.

Overall I'd say 7/10. Nice crispy outside, soft inside. Great dipped in marinara or olive oil. My only complaint is that the inside was a bit dry, not as moist as I'd like. It was a bit bland on its own and needed the dips to round out the flavor.

It'd be great with lasagne or another dish that left behind a lot of flavorful residue to wipe up.

     
andi*pandi
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Apr 20, 2020, 12:35 PM
 
nice! We made homemade pizza a week or 3 ago... while it turned out tasty, we all agreed that takeout was much easier.
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 20, 2020, 06:27 PM
 
Focaccia is a go-to in our house. Good excuse to consume some good olive oil.
[set curmudgeon_mode=1]
     
Laminar
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Apr 21, 2020, 08:06 AM
 
What recipe do you use? I'm open for a good one.
     
ShortcutToMoncton
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Apr 21, 2020, 10:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Theres a lot to be said for a bowl of pasta with salt, pepper and butter on it. In a pinch anyway.
Better yet: mash (or whip) up an avocado and drizzle a little lemon/lime in there! I bought some bottles of freeze-dried spices, so dump some basil and garlic powder in as well.

Super easy, creamy, avocado-y, lemony, delicious!
Mankind's only chance is to harness the power of stupid.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 21, 2020, 12:04 PM
 
Oooh. I know someone who would like that.

Mixed results on winging it for shrimp with broccoli and alfredo sauce. Sauce was tasty, but not smooth. Might have had wrong cheese on hand, and 1% milk instead of cream likely also a factor.
     
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Apr 21, 2020, 08:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Better yet: mash (or whip) up an avocado and drizzle a little lemon/lime in there! I bought some bottles of freeze-dried spices, so dump some basil and garlic powder in as well.

Super easy, creamy, avocado-y, lemony, delicious!
I'm not convinced I've ever eaten avocado. I can't think what it tastes like at all.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 21, 2020, 10:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I'm not convinced I've ever eaten avocado. I can't think what it tastes like at all.
The next, next version of The Tomorrow People should zoom in on an avocado instead of a green pepper
     
ghporter
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Apr 22, 2020, 01:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I'm not convinced I've ever eaten avocado. I can't think what it tastes like at all.
You, my friend, have missed out.

By itself, avocado can be anywhere from nutty to buttery to both. The flesh is smooth and creamy, and can be served sliced or mushed up in many ways. Adding a few ingredients and some seasonings allows you to turn a wonderful fruit into guacamole.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Apr 22, 2020, 05:37 PM
 
I'm reasonably au fait with its versatility. Somehow I don't think I've ever eaten any of it. Strange. I haven't been avoiding it or anything.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 22, 2020, 07:18 PM
 
Has avocado toast not invaded the empire yet?
[set curmudgeon_mode=1]
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 22, 2020, 08:42 PM
 
guacamole, avocado toast (kid is expert at making), BLAT sandwiches, add to salads... add to anything really.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Apr 22, 2020, 09:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
Has avocado toast not invaded the empire yet?
Sure. I don't have anyone to eat brunch with though.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
ShortcutToMoncton
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Apr 23, 2020, 10:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I'm not convinced I've ever eaten avocado. I can't think what it tastes like at all.
That’s sad. It’s really awesome. Since the skin is nice to hold, they double as my go-to delicious snack: cut in half, remove pit, squeeze some lime or lemon juice and grind some cracked pepper and salt on top. Eat straight with a spoon while walking around yelling about how great it is. Make a dark and stormy (lemon) or gin and sparkling water (lime) with the rest of your fruit. Be happy.
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OAW
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Apr 23, 2020, 11:39 AM
 
While avocado is really good ... it's still not very easy for me to get past the whole "It looks like baby sh*t!" thing. Probably why I eat it sparingly.

OAW
     
ghporter
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Apr 23, 2020, 11:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Eat straight with a spoon while walking around yelling about how great it is.
My only problem with avocados is getting them when they are “not too ripe” but “not too unripe”. It’s a skill that I’ve learned over time, and I’m getting pretty good at it.

While in Honduras in 2000, my wife and I stumbled on a vegetable vendor who had (I swear!) avocados twice the size of “extra large” Haas avocados around here. And it just wasn’t proper to not haggle, so we got three or four of them for about 10 Lempira (the exchange rate is still around 25L per $, so yes, it was a steal). Extra yummy because they were picked when nearly ripe.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 23, 2020, 03:29 PM
 
I’m not a huge fan of avocado, but someone I know who is, and knows their food, swears by sprinkling some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on them.
     
mindwaves
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Apr 24, 2020, 04:33 AM
 
Avocados are good. I like them sliced between two slices of bread with mayo. Nothing else.
{{{ mindwaves }}}
     
 
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