What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

July 25, 2012

Free Honey Royal Nectarine or Doughnut Peach Gelato

Click coupon for an easy-print version

The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

Nutritional Value and How to Select Them

By Robbie Sigona

I honestly love this time of year. The weather is warm and fantastic every day, the San Francisco Giants are battling for first place and the first melons of the season are arriving in our stores.

And let me just say this: they are tasting really, really good right now.

We get our melons from Turlock Fruit Company in, you guessed it, Turlock, CA. Owner and grower Don Smith is a second generation melon aficionado who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. 94 years after his dad first started the company, the family business is as strong as ever. Heck, there’s even a third generation (Steve) and fourth generation (Alec) Smith continuing the legacy that started back in 1918.

We’re going to dig a little bit deeper in the unique history of Turlock Fruit Company – as well as their rare heirloom melons – in the next installment of our e-newsletter. For now, let’s focus on the deep nutritional value of melons and what to look for when you’re buying them the next time you visit Sigona’s Farmers Market.

Honeydew

Let’s start first with honeydew. Our honeydew that’s tasting magnificent right now is packed full of vitamin C, which of course is great for giving your immune system a turbo boost. This orange-fleshy goodness is a mighty anti-oxidant and provides your body with potassium (essential for proper cell function). You might be surprised to know that folks with high potassium levels typically have blood pressure lower than their peers, hence another reason to go melon crazy this summer.

My person favorite right now is the orange flesh honeydew. While it looks somewhat similar on the outside to typical honeydew, the inside color, taste and smell is actually more reminiscent of cantaloupe. Find one with a cream-colored rind and sugar-packed aromas and you’ll be enjoying yourself in no time.

Cantaloupe

If you’ve been disappointed with cantaloupe up until now you can’t miss with our current crop. This is truly the time of year to go for it.

Cantaloupes are a classic fruit loaded with vitamin A and C. The vitamin A will help you to keep your visor laser-sharp; for women who are pregnant, it will assist with developing and growing the little tike inside of you.

Cantaloupes are also a good source of:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Fiber

Speaking of fiber, did you know that the average American only consumes around 14 grams per day? This falls far short of the recommended daily intake of 20-38 grams. With fiber so essential to digestion (and preventing not-so-fun issues such as constipation, hemorrhoids and inflammation of the digestive tract), why not get your daily dose through delicious and healthy tasting cantaloupes!

What to Look For

Something we see every now and again in the store are folks who aren’t exactly sure which honeydew or cantaloupe to select. They know these fruits and healthy. They know they taste sugary-delicious. But sometimes they all look pretty similar. If you don’t know what to look for, it can be like sticking your hand into a fish bowl, pulling out a random raffle ticket and hoping it’s a winner.

That’s why if you stick to these basic tips the next time you’re in the store, you’ll be going home with a prize every single time:

  • Melons should have just a slight give when you squeeze them. Are they hard as a bowling ball? Move on and look for another.
  • Look for ones that are as blemish-free as possible.
  • A sugary aroma should waft into your nostrils as you smell them.
  • Once home, run the melons over cold water to clean off any dirt.
  • It’s smart to store them in the fridge right away. Cover them in plastic and consume within three days.

With melon season looking so phenomenal right now, we’ll be talking in our next e-news about heirloom varieties you won’t find at just any grocery outlet. You’ll learn how Turlock Fruit Company has kept these amazing fruits popping out of the ground for decades on end and why you need to try them as soon as humanly possible.

In the meantime, don’t forget to try out our recipes for Sweet Local Orange flesh Honeydew with a Drizzle of Reduced Balsamic as well as Local Melon Red Wine. We’ll guarantee you’ll be in melon heaven!

July 24, 2012

Sprouted Gourmet Almonds on Sale at Sigona’s

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week

Sprouted Gourmet Almonds: A Live and Very Healthy Food

On special right now through August 7th

Six months ago I introduced sprouted raw gourmet almonds, a hard-to-find raw food item with many health benefits. I’m re-introducing this wonderful item at a very special price.

California Raw Sprouted Gourmet Almonds: 5 oz. container for only $2.99 (regular $4.99)

A live, healthy and unique product from Central California, our sprouted gourmet almonds are absolutely incredible and hard to find anywhere but at Sigona’s Farmers Market.

I’m pleased as punch to offer them to you because they are truly so good for you. You’ll find them in our dried fruits and nuts section in 5oz. containers.

Believe it or not, these are actually healthier, better tasting and easier to chew and digest than our regular raw almonds. The sprouted unique formula is the key for this special almond, which originated from the farming family who grows these almonds, in Central California.

This healthy, original live sprouted food has exceptional nutritional value locked inside each kernel because sprouting enlivens the enzymes that are dormant within. Contact with water “awakens” the nut so sprouted almonds contain concentrated vital energy and nutrition. Sprouting neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in the nut, allowing quicker and more complete digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

**Nutritional information:

  • Sprouted almonds contain resveratrol—an anti-aging factor—1.4 mg per 24 nuts—that’s the equivalent of 3 glasses of red wine
  • Sprouted almonds contain beta sitosterol, campesterol and stanols—cholesterol-lowering factors
  • Sprouted almonds contain stigma sterol—anti-muscle stiffness factor

Compared to “regular” raw almonds, sprouted are superior.

John outside with produce

John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

Per 10 oz. serving**

  • Calories from fat———-Raw…113———–Sprouted….99————(-13%)
  • Total fat——————–Raw…12.8 g——–Sprouted…11.25 g—–(-12%)
  • Saturated fat—————Raw…0. 88g——-Sprouted….0.74 g——(-16%)
  • Riboflavin B2————–Raw…31g————Sprouted…0.35 g——(+ 13%)
  • Niacin B3——————-Raw….0.95%——–Sprouted…0.99g——-(+ 4%)
  • Soluble Fiber—————Raw…..7.4%———-Sprouted…10.3%——(+39%)
  • Campesterol—————-Raw….1.2 mg———Sprouted…1.4 mg—-(+17%)
  • Beta Sitosterol————-Raw…..28.6 mg——-Sprouted…36.0 mg—(+26%)
  • Stanols———————-Raw…..9.5 mg———Sprouted…10.5 mg—(+11%)
  • Stigmasterol—————-Raw…..1.3 mg———Sprouted…1.7 mg—–(+31%)

Our sprouted live raw almonds are delicious to eat out of hand or in fruit and vegetable salads. They’re also great in granola and trail mixes.

**All nutritional information gathered directly from the source

July 11, 2012

Best Dried Apricots in the World on Sale at Sigona’s

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week

Locally Grown Dried Apricots

On special right now through July 24th:

6.5 oz. Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $2.99 (Reg. $3.99)
10 oz. Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $4.99 (Reg. $5.99)
19 oz. Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $7.99 (Reg. $9.79)
Bulk Extra Large Size Blenheim Apricots: $9.99 lb. (Reg. $13.99 lb.)

These are the very best dried apricots in the entire world!

No kidding!

We really do have the very best locally grown dried apricots you’ll find anywhere. They’re fantastic because they are:

  • An heirloom Blenheim variety
    • The Blenheim heirlooms have the best flavor of any other variety: a perfect sweet/tart balance featuring smooth, delicate excellence.
    • Blenheims are grown specifically for drying
  • From the local Santa Clara and San Benito Counties
    • Ideal weather—warm late spring/summer days, cool evenings
    • Cool days and evenings in the off season—good for hibernating
    • Soil is excellent for nourishment and healthiest growth possible
    • These two counties are unsurpassed for ideal conditions for growing Blenheim apricots. They’re better than anywhere else in our state, country or in the world!
John outside with produce

John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

Besides the great taste, just 2 oz. of our Blenheim dried apricots provide nutritional and health benefits; a few examples based on a 2,000 per day calorie intake includes:

  • 58% Vitamin A
  • 20% Iron
  • 16% Fiber
  • 4% Iron
  • 4% Calcium
  • Help with constipation
  • Help ease digestion

Our Blenheim apricots are a tasty treat eaten out of hand, but they can be used in cooking in many interesting ways. (Check out our recipes for additional tasty ideas.)

  • With wild rice and chicken
  • In an elegant sweet potato dish
  • In couscous (with chopped onions and spices)
  • In a Chinese salad
  • Chicken or turkey salad
  • Apricot pie or tart
  • And much more!

Home Sweet Home Ranch

Home Sweet Home Ranch

Sweet Home Ranch farmer Paul Buxman places nature and family first to provide you with the sweetest, most perfect stone fruits in the entire Bay Area!

By Robbie Sigona

Sweet Home Ranch farmer Paul Buxman

“You know how I stay cool all day on my tractor in 100-plus degree heat,” Paul Buxman asked me from his Sweet Home Ranch in Dinuba, CA just south of Fresno. “I place a towel under my hat and fill it full of ice every hour. The cold water just drips down onto my head and shoulders. Sometimes I’m cold even when it’s 112 degrees out!”

The only things more delicious and sweet than Paul’s humor are the nectarines, peaches, plums and additional stone fruits his farm grows on his 55 acre ranch.

That’s because unlike fruit that may be stored for up to three weeks and picked green, produce from Sweet Home Ranch is plucked from branches at the peak of ripeness. Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s delivered and placed on our shelves here at Sigona’s for you and your family to enjoy. With produce that fresh, no wonder it’s bursting with so many exquisite flavors.

Having forged a close friendship with Paul over the years, I know one of the things he prides himself on the most are his growing techniques. Every piece of produce from his farm is certified California Clean. In a nutshell this basically means that all his succulent fruits are grown sans organic or synthetic pesticides. While Paul’s produce may not be certified organic, his unique and intricate growing techniques are still environmentally friendly and yield the best-tasting fruits you’ve ever had.

Before I could practically finish asking Paul his opinion on which stone fruits are looking especially good right now, he exclaimed excitedly, “The Diamond Ray nectarines! It’s packed full of calcium, zinc and additional minerals that your body craves.”

Having tasted these beauties myself, I can personally attest that you’ll want to try one the next time you’re in the store. I’d also highly suggest the Snow Princess and Ice Princess peaches as well. These fragrant white-flesh peaches possess floral notes with a touch of honey and rose.

Paul says that his peaches are about as perfect as they can be right now due in large part to ideal climate conditions. “While they’re roasting out there in the Midwest and the East, we’ve had a relatively mild summer here so far with only a few days over 100. All early ripening fruits prefer 90-degree weather, which we’ve had, and this allows for 2 to 3 more days on the trees to give them those flavor profiles that people expect and love.”

Sweet Home Ranch is constantly striving to attain the perfect peach, plum, nectarine and more. From tweaking watering patterns to pruning techniques, Paul leaves no leaf unturned.

Paul is equally attentive and dedicated to creating a nourishing family environment for his workers. This enables them to live and thrive as vibrantly as the peaches that are eventually picked from the trees.

“There’s a huge labor shortage in the farming industry right now. This is because the system currently requires six to eight weeks of hard labor, but then workers are laid off. That’s no good,” Paul stated emphatically. “So we find ways to have our employees working year-round – along with two months of vacation for them to travel and visit their families.”

To counter those days of “dead time” when most employees would be laid off, Paul and his wife Ruth diversify their peachy portfolio by making precious preserves. This off-season work increases the amount of days his employees can be compensated for their efforts.

Along with providing his employees with a steady stream of income, Sweet Home Ranch also makes sure its valued workers are surrounded by a safe environment. You might be astonished to know that when it finally gets just too darn hot out there, Paul sends his workers home – paid! “What’s more important: the loss of a few peaches or the potential for heat stroke? Without our workers we’re nothing.”
Sweet Home Ranch now has employees that have been with the company for over two decades. Many of these loyal folks now have kids working for the company. (Hey! That sounds just like Sigona’s Farmers Market!)

As Paul so eloquently put it, “It really is heaven on earth here, except for days when it’s 110 degrees out.”

We look forward to seeing you in the store this summer for the best stone fruit you’ve even tasted. And don’t forget to check out our recipes, including Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc and my Uncle Carmelo’s Simple Stone Fruit Salad.

July 3, 2012

Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil of the Month: July 2012

Sigona’s Fresh Press Olive Oil of the Month: July 2012

July means sunny skies, celebrating our independence on the 4th and summer barbeques with friends and family. And what barbeque would be complete without a piece of mouth-watering, extra-virgin-olive-oil drizzled bread adorning your plate?

That’s why we’re excited to let you know that our fresh pressed extra virgin olive oils from the southern hemisphere have just arrived in the store. The first oil we’re going to feature is Empeltre from Chile. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drink a salad, taste a sample the next time you’re in the store – just be careful of that peppery goodness on the back end.

Sigona’s July 2012 Olive Oil of the Month

Empeltre (from Chile)

This oil:

  • Is like eating a salad
  • Boast notes of celery, fresh lettuce and additional vegetables
  • Delivers a jolt of throat-closing pepper on the back end
  • Packs a robust polyphenol count of 398

Try this recipe from Veronica Foods

Super Robust Olio Nuovo Empeltre EVOO Focaccia with Rosemary & Caramelized Shallots

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 2 cups lukewarm water; filtered if possible
  • 1 cup cooled, unseasoned, mashed russet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup + 1/3 cup + more for drizzling of Sigona’s fresh pressed Empeltre EVOO
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 medium shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 package active dried yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves rough chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

If making the dough in your bread machine, follow its instructions for the order of adding ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of olive oil, mashed potatoes and sea salt. Mix to combine.

breadWith the mixer running on the lowest speed, begin to add the flour, cup by cup, until the dough has come together and becomes elastic and just slightly tacky. Reserve any leftover flour for rolling the dough out.

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for one hour.

On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment, gently push the dough to the edges, using fingertips to stretch it and make dimpled indentations. Cover and allow the dough to rise for another hour in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Distribute the thinly slices shallots and rosemary evenly over the focaccia. Drizzle with the remaining 1/3 cup of Sigona’s fresh pressed Empeltre EVOO. Add a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and sea salt.

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until golden brown. While still hot out of the oven, drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil to taste. Serve warm and enjoy.

Click here for more great recipes!

June 27, 2012

Get Grillin’ with Local, Fresh-Picked Corn

Get Grillin’ with Local, Fresh-Picked Corn

Shuck it, grill it, put it in a salsa — one of the summer favorites is arriving daily at our stores and it doesn’t get any sweeter than fresh-picked. Plus, get a free tote of corn just in time for the 4th of July!

By Robbie Sigona

Ah, summer. Barbeques send swirls of mouth-watering scents through the air, kids run through sprinklers, you favorite fruits are now coming from local growers and iced tea is brewed in the summer sun. Speaking of barbeques, did you know you can cook almost anything on the grill? This includes corn on the cob. There is no reason to heat up the kitchen more than it already is by boiling a large pot of water. Just throw those cobs on the barbie!

Corn is fantastic when grilled, whether it’s left on the cob or sliced off to be used in salsas, salads or other dishes. We have some delicious corn recipes on the blog, including Green Beans with Roasted Corn and Green Onions inspired by Food Network’s Guy Fieri.

Let’s Get Corny

Did you know that a stalk of corn only produces one good ear? It’s true! Our local farmer John Spina only harvests the biggest and best ear from the stalk. Or how about this: did you know you really only need to let corn swim in boiling water for about 2 minutes if that’s the cooking method you choose? Well, corn doesn’t really need to be cooked at all before you eat it – in fact, if you’re in the employee room during corn season, you might just see a Sigona peel back the husks and start eating an ear of corn as is…no cooking required.

There’s nothing like fresh-picked corn on the cob, either dressed up with a smear of butter and a dusting of salt & pepper, or grilled and incorporated into a summer salad. Judging by the popularity of our corn display the majority of you agree. We get daily deliveries of white corn from our friend John Spina of Spina Farms in Morgan Hill. The corn is picked in the morning and delivered to our stores in the afternoon so we have fresh corn every day.

Such a quick turnaround is significant because fresh corn is sweeter. This is because once picked, the sugars in corn begin converting to starch. Same with asparagus. Moral of the story: corn is best eaten as fresh-picked as possible.

One of the biggest myths about corn is that it needs to be cooked for a long while before it’s edible. Even the freshest ear, when cooked too long, can taste starchy and stale. Grilling corn allows its natural sugars to caramelize, which adds another layer of flavor and makes for a more chewy texture. Again, just don’t keep it on the heat for too long. Slice the grilled corn off the cob and incorporate it into a citrus-based salsa and you’ll be the talk of the town!

Meet the Farmer

We’ve worked with the Spina family – John, his father and his son (all named John) – for nearly 40 years. They have a small produce stand of their own in Morgan Hill, too, and used to buy some items from us at our old roadside fruit stands along Old Monterey Highway…back when we were called Coyote Berry Acres. A lot has changed for us since then, but our relationships with farmers have stayed the same. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our local farmers.

John Spina

John Spina of Spina Farms

Corn got a late start this summer, just like most California produce, but John says the stalks are doing well now and should be in steady production until November.

“We have 150 acres on which we’re growing a few different varieties of white corn this season,” said John. “We grow different varieties each year to find which respond the best to the conditions and farming techniques. Quality is very important to us and we pick only when the corn is at its peak so Sigona’s and its customers get the best.”

In general, white corn is more tender and sweeter than yellow corn, which has a more chewy texture and hardy corn flavor. My Uncle Carmelo remembers when white corn was a rare find in markets; it wasn’t until the 1970s that the demand for white corn grew and farmers began planting more white than yellow. Until that time, yellow corn was the norm – Golden Bantam was popular in the 1950s and Golden Jubilee was the rage in the late 1960s.

In addition to white corn, Spina Farms grows peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash, Indian corn and 67 (yes 67!) different varieties of pumpkins and gourds, many of which you’ll see decorating our stores come fall.

The Spina family also operate the Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch on their farm in the fall, featuring train rides on the Spina Pumpkin Express, hay ride tours of the pumpkin patch and Indian corn field, pumpkin decorating and more. It’s a great destination for the family in the fall and it’s open beginning the last weekend in September through the month of October.

Remember to take advantage of the coupon we’re offering this week…just in time for your 4th of July celebrations! Bring in your coupon and when you spend $30 or more you can walk away with a free tote bag full of corn. Also make sure to check out our recipes for corn, such as Sautéed Corn with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil and Fresh Corn Salad with Black Beans, Tomato and Cilantro.

Raw California Whole, Jumbo Pistachio Meats on Sale at Sigona’s

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week

California Whole Raw (Jumbo Size)

Pistachio Meats

Regularly $6.99 

On special right now for $3.99 (6 oz. container)

Raw pistachio meatsOur raw pistachios are coming from a family owned and operated farm in Terra Bella, California. These pistachios are of the finest quality in the world. They’re jumbo sized and picked at full maturity to assure excellent flavor.

Raw pistachios are full of extraordinary nutritional benefits. Here are some of the reasons why they are so good for you:

A (1) oz. serving of raw pistachios provides 10% of the daily value for:

  • Dietary fiber
  • Vitamin B6
  • Thiamin
  • Phosphorus
  • Copper

Raw pistachios are rich in:

John outside with produce

John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

  • Phytosterols, which directly aid in lowering cholesterol levels
  • Monounsaturated (healthy) fats
  • High quality plant source of protein, providing essential and non-essential amino acids

Try raw pistachios in:

June 25, 2012

Beef Potstickers made with Open Source grass-fed beef

Beef Potstickers

Grass-fed Beef Potstickers by Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos, Calif.

Recipe courtesy of Luisa Ormonde, a local private chef and caterer. Luisa says, “I made these this morning for a client and will make them again for myself! I found the dough very easy to work with, *but if you are intimidated just use premade pot sticker wraps/round wonton wraps instead. Enjoy!” Makes approx. 25-30 potstickers.

For dough (*see note above)

  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup boiling-hot water

For filling

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef (such as local Open Source beef, found at Sigona’s)
  • 3 TBL soy sauce
  • 3 TBL Asian sesame oil
  • 1 TBL peanut oil
  • 2 TBL minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 TBL organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green garlic chives (6 oz) (Cook’s note: find flowering garlic chives (jiu cai in Mandarin) at a local Asian market or use regular chives minced with a little garlic)

For panfrying

  • 1 TBL peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup warm water

Make dough: Put 1 3/4 cups flour in a large bowl, then add boiling-hot water, stirring with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. When just cool enough to handle, turn out dough (including any loose flour) onto a work surface and knead, incorporating some of remaining 1/4 cup flour if dough is sticky, until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Form into a ball and cover with clean towel. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Make filling while dough stands: Stir together beef, soy sauce, oils, ginger and bean paste in a medium bowl, then stir in chives.

Form and fry dumplings: Divide dough in half. On lightly floured parchment paper, roll out one half until thin with rolling pin. With a 3 inch round biscuit cutter, cut as many circles as you can out of the dough (you can reroll the scraps but form into a ball and let rest again before rolling). Place a level tablespoon of filling in center of each round, then brush or dab halfway around edge with a little water and fold in half, pressing edges together to seal then crimp. Place each dumpling, sealed edge up, on a wax/parchment paper-lined tray. Make more dumplings in same manner with remaining dough.

For panfrying: Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot, then remove from heat and arrange dumplings in a tight circular pattern standing up in oil (they should touch one another). Cook, uncovered, over moderate heat until oil sizzles, then drizzle warm water (1/3 cup) over pot stickers and cook, covered, until bottoms are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons more water if skillet looks dry before bottoms are browned.

Remove lid and cook, shaking skillet to loosen pot stickers, until steam dissipates, 1 to 2 minutes. Invert a large plate with a rim over skillet. Using pot holders, hold plate and skillet together and invert skillet. Remove skillet and serve pot stickers warm.

Cooks’ note: Dumplings can be formed 4 hours ahead. Chill in 1 layer, not touching, on wax-paper-lined tray, loosely but completely covered with plastic wrap.

June 13, 2012

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: cherries, peaches & nectarines

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: What’s New

This week:

  • We have in our famous, local Bing cherries from Andy Mariani’s orchard in Santa Clara Valley…just south of us in Morgan Hill. They’re huge, deep burgundy and extremely sweet. They arrive at Sigona’s within hours of being picked – Uncle Paul picks them up at 10 a.m. and brings them to Sigona’s!
  • On another note, Paul Buxman, our local, certified California Clean grower, will soon be in with white and yellow peaches and white and yellow nectarines. It’s all going to be real good, but I expect the Diamond Bright yellow nectarine to be excellent! It’s one of the best varieties of the year.

Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables — some you won’t find anywhere else.

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