Thursday, March 31, 2011

Strawberry Lime Shortcake

IMG_2077 This was the only shot I got of these. It looks messy, the whipped cream was over-whipped and the biscuit was partially eaten but that doesn't matter because these tasted awesome. The biscuit is light, flakey and only slightly sweet. It's a more traditional verson of shortcake, unlike the typical angel food cake. Picnik collage Recipe by Nigella Lawson. Recipe found here, the picture comparison makes me laugh :) Preheat oven to 425. Mix 2 cups plus 2 tbs flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbs baking powder, 3 tbs of sugar. My favorite part: Grate 1/2 cup (1 stick) FROZEN unsalted butter into the dry ingredients. Mix it all together. I just think that's genius. It makes it so easy to get the butter even dispersed thru your biscuits. In a separate bowl whisk together 1/2 cup light cream and 1 large egg. Slowly add it into the dry ingredients, a little at a time while mixing with a fork. Stop when the dough comes together. Picnik collage Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about an inch thickness. Cut as many rounds as you can, I got 9 out of it but maybe mine weren't thick enough. I used a 2.5 inch cutter. Place on a baking sheet 1 inch apart, brush the tops with 1 egg white and sprinkle with 2 tbs of sugar. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile take your pint of strawberry and smoosh half in a bowl with a tbs sugar. Halve or quarter the rest and mix together for the topping. Whip some heavy whipping cream as a topping. Assemble! Split the biscuits in half, spread LIME CURD (the most important part) across the bottom, add a scoop of strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream and serve. Picnik collage So, fix my biscuits. They didn't rise evenly and some spread oddly. Is it the way that the sides got pressed down when I cut them? The first picture shows the way they are supposed to be but the other side was all lopsided. Suggestions? IMG_2038 The important thing is that they tasted absolutely fantastic. P.S. My little Peanut is 5 months old today!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Puppy Love



A little dose of Peanut and his beagle stuffed animal. Someday we'll have a real dog, but hopefully he'll be past the point where he wants to eat it and lick it's nose. Although, you never can tell with kids.

We had a busy day and I'm just exhausted. Well, exhausted in a good way. I've started back into working out. I'm pretty sure that during my class I almost died...twice. After that B and I took the Peanut to the farmers market. We headed home, I took a quick shower and B took off on a ride while I attempted to clean up the apartment. Really it was just running around in between switching Peanut from toy to floor to swing to floor to jumperoo to keep him occupied.

A trip to the grocery store for some baking supplies, dinner made completely from farm fresh foods and seafood, bath, book and Peanut to bed.

Then I made strawberry shortcake and juiced oranges for mimosa's. I'm having brunch tomorrow (today) with two of my best friends.

Since I'm two tired to put anymore thoughts together I thought I'd share some video's I've come across on facebook. I'm sure some of you have already seen them but they crack me up every time!



Can you believe the look on that child's face?! Complete terror and then fits of giggles. Think he'll be an adrenaline junky when he gets older? :P



I love how they go on and on! They mimic each other and laugh and respond. Wouldn't you love to know what in the world they are talking about?

Up next is a recipe for strawberry shortcake and a request for your help with my biscuits!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Providence Restaurant, Los Angeles

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For our 1st anniversary (yes, in December) B and I went to Providence Restaurant in LA. We had a gift certificate that we were dying to use and wanted to wait until after I had Peanut so that I didn't have any dietary restrictions.

It was sooo worth the wait.

It's been a while since then but I made sure to take notes and didn't need much help remembering how good it was.
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It was quite a celebration. Not only were we celebrating our first anniversary but also having our first baby free night together!

I had some bubbly as usual.

I love that the server came by with a box of the hugest truffles ever. At $60 a plate, you could add on a white or black truffle dish to your dinner. I wish I could pipe that smell through the computer. You could smell it several tables away.
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I had to include the bread and butter service. I call it deconstructed butter because they serve unsalted butter with a little separate container of salt.

Let's talk about the bread.

There were 3 choices, a plain roll which we didn't get, the seaweed focaccia which was really good and the star- bacon brioche. Every single bite had the flavor of bacon in it, even the bites that didn't actually have bits of bacon.

It wasn't greasy in the slightest. It was heaven.

Heaven, and B buttered it. He buttered bacon brioche. The man is bound to have a heart attack.
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This was the first course and I'll admit that my heart sunk a little when it arrived.

All I could think was that I just couldn't eat a whole raw egg yolk. I looked over at B and he was grinning with anticipation- he loves egg yolk.

BUT it turns out that egg yolk impersonator was really a "screwdriver bubble".

Basically a screwdriver cocktail of orange juice and vodka in a gelatin casing. You just pop the whole thing in your mouth, the bubble breaks and you enjoy a little cocktail.

On the left you see the mojito gelee which was very refreshing.
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The next two courses were grilled New Zealand baby abalone (sooo tiny, I wish I could see their shells) and skewers of squid and chorizo.

I love the squid and chorizo pairing was fantastic.

Did I mention that B and I decided on the chef's tasting menu? We didn't even really look at the menu because we already knew we wanted to rely on the chef to send out the food.
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I didn't realize until half-way thru dinner that the chef's tasting menu was approximately 200 courses.

That's your warning that this may be the longest post I've ever done.

Here we have Kanpachi (amberjack) sashimi with finger lime cream and rice cracker.

I love the shape of their chopsticks. I know it's random but these are the things I notice. Go to Providence, they have neat chopsticks!

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In this bowl we have raw geoduck and abalone with seaweed and seabeans.

If you've never seen geoduck in it's whole form... well, it's probably for the best. It's a very large salt water clam, it's rather frightening and very phallic.

Go ahead, I'll wait while you google it.



The liquid in the bowl was fresh and brine-y and tasted like the ocean (in a good way). This was the first time I had seabeans (aka salicornia or glasswort) and I loved them.

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Next up we had Uni (sea urchin roe) Chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) with a white soy gelee (fancy name for a jello-like substance) and on the spoon is caviar with edible 24k gold leaf.

Although B gets uni all the time, I have never had it. I had only ever seen it served raw. Here it is cooked and the texture is really solid.

I think caviar is wasted on me, so I tried a bit and passed it to B. He loves it!

The gold leaf is so pretty on it :)

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Succelent king crab with a parsnip puree and truffle brown butter sauce.

Oddly enough the vegetables on this dish were one of the things that stood out the most to me when I look back at the dinner. They were the tiniest dice I have ever seen (remember this picture is a close-up of a very small serving) and they were cooked perfectly.

They weren't mushy and whoever cooked them managed to leave them a bit al dente. I was really surprised to find all that texture in such teensy vegetables.

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Scallops served with both raw and braised matsutake mushrooms in a broth with sake and mirin.

One of the things I loved about Providence is that although it is most definitely fancy-schmancy, the atmosphere was very comfortable. The servers were so personable and completely unpretentious.

My favorite of the servers was just super excited about the food, every time he explained a dish I was just as excited.

Nothing worse than snobby restaurants.

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Unagi (freshwater eel) and fois gras on a bed of buckwheat with a bit of napa cabbage and a dashi broth.

They had me at fois gras. I know it's one of those things I'm not supposed to like but I just can't deny my feelings for it. Strong, emotional feelings.

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Grilled octopus with cranberry beans, jalapeno and brown butter. The grilled flavor in this was fantastic and the octopus wasn't overly chewy.

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Crisp pork belly with shallot confit. Oh my. Perfectly crisp on the outside and then it just melts away. The shallot confit was a perfect balance to the pork.

I love pork belly. It's not actually the pig's stomach but a fatty cut of meat from the belly area of the pig. It's where American bacon normally comes from.

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Wagyu beef with black truffle, carrots, hearts of palm and Australian... I have no idea what on this plate was Australian because I didn't finish my notes.

I'm thinking the wagyu was Ausralian. Yep, I have a little arrow. So wagyu beef from Australia.

I mean, we're lucky I took notes at all. I was trying to write as the server was explaining and then take a picture before I inhaled the food.

Wagyu beef has a high fat content and a lot of marbling which means lots of flavor and a very tender meat.

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OK we are nearing the end, I swear.

Doesn't this seem like one of the meals we would have had in New Zealand?

I saw the cheese cart making it's rounds and couldn't wait. You can never be too full for cheese. This was another one of the things you could smell a table away- and I'm not sure that's a good thing. :)

The server comes to your table with a cart full of cheeses from around the world and then puts together a personalized platter. He asks what you like and offers suggestions.

I had no idea how to spell any of the names of the cheese so here is a brief description. We had a truffle cheese (top), a stinky, very soft cheese (heaven on a spoon), a goat cheese (bottom rightand a Spanish sheep's milk cheese similar to manchego. They serve it with fresh bread, candied walnuts, fig, apple jam and apricot, black pepper jam.

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Here come the dessert courses! Yes, multiple dessert courses.

Top to bottom is a lychee sorbet sitting on a mango gelee in a white chocolate and coconut soup.

The lychee flavor in the sorbet was so intense and refreshing and the soup was very light. The soup was more milk-y than chocolate-y and what you see in there are tapioca beads.

I have no idea what was in between the two layers but it added a very nice crunch. The little circles on the side were slices of baby coconut.

Loved this dessert.

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The second dessert course was dulce de leche panna cotta with puffed rice and pineapple.

I'm still not completely sold on the pineapple in this. The acid does cut the richness of the panna cotta but I happen to like rich desserts...even after 313 courses.

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Chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake powder, egg-less creme brulee and brandied cherries.

The entire dessert was awesome but what really impressed me was the cake powder. The ice cream was rolled in it and the plate decorated in it. The powder itself wasn't soft like you would imagine crumbled cake to be. It was really crunchy and I ate all of it.

The creme brulee were the perfect size to pop into your mouth and was more solid than your normal creamy brulee. Those brandied cherries were like having a shot, in a good way.

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This was not actually a course. It came with our check, perhaps something to sweeten or revive you after seeing the bill? :P

The vanilla caramel was so soft and you could see the vanilla bean flecks in it. The green tea chocolates were gorgeous and had a difinite green tea flavor without being overwhelming. Last but definitely not least were the macarons. I love macarons and these were soft and chewy and perfect.

That concludes our eating extravaganza!

Did anyone actually make it to the end of this post?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Irvine Farmers Market

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B, Peanut and I have been making our way around the farmer's markets around here. Fresh foods seem to be my new obsession and we love supporting locals by buying at the markets.

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The farmers market at the historic park in Irvine Ranch is small but has some great vendors.

Are those not the prettiest carrots you've ever seen?

Everyone is friendly and there seem to be quite a few regulars patrons, which is always a good sign.

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We'll be going back this week to visit this man and score some more of the best pasta in Orange County.

I believe he is teaching Peanut some Italian in that picture.

Do you ever shop farmer's markets?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh the screeching

Yesterday morning Peanut made a screeching sound. It was kinda cute. By afternoon he had really gotten the hang of this new screeching sound.



The thing is, the screeching didn't stop. It continued on and on throughout the day and into the night.

Screeching at the mobile, screeching at his reflection, screeching at each and every one of his toys, screeching at the ceiling, in my ear, at the neighbors, in the swing, on the play mat, screeching when he was supposed to be sleeping.

Screeching in combination with spit-flinging raspberries provides endless fun.

He even woke up to screech a few times before going back to sleep.

Let's hope there won't be any 3 am screeching. Not exactly a lovely way to wake up.



I don't suppose the next sound learned could be the gentle humming of the clare de lune?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring's Influence

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It must be something about spring and having a fresh start or new beginning or clean slate or something like that.

I'm getting that nesting feeling back (and no, I'm not pregnant, don't you dare even think it) and I feel like cleaning. I feel like organizing our apartment and purging our drawers.

The thing is, I really have to go for it when I get that urge because it doesn't always last long. Only I have this little person interrupting my momentum. Just the time it takes to sit and feed him and I'm back to wanting to curl up with a book and hold him while he sleeps. I end up with a lot of half-done projects.

I'm still not working so I feel the need to do more at home. I've cooked dinner twice in the past week which just never happens and I have a meal planned for tomorrow. I'm shooting for every other day. Don't laugh, that's a big step for me! B does almost all of the cooking around here. I'll admit though that I still have no idea how to juggle getting dinner on the table and getting the baby bathed and fed. B's schedule varies and sometimes he gets home right at the time I'm in the nighttime routine.

I'm trying hard to get Peanut into more of a routine with naps, feeding, bathtime and bed.

I keep thinking of things and adding it to my to do list.

I know, people do these things every day. They raise children, make dinner, talk with their friends, family and partners, keep a clean house, work, homeschool, run errands, read, write and play with their kids. I just have no idea how. On any given day I'm lucky to pick 2 and get those done.

Today I need to get my Red Egg and Ginger thank you's done, bake dessert for dinner with friends tonight, get my mammogram, and clean the apartment.

Chances are I'll complete 2 out of 4 of those tasks.

I sure hope dessert comes out :)

The Easiest Lemon (or Lime) Curd EVER

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No more double boiler, no more slowly incorporating butter, no more fear or little cooked bits of egg, no more straining.

I'd seen this method used before and it hasnt failed me yet.

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I started out with what I thought were a bunch of lemons (home grown from my parent's neighbors) and it ending up being mostly limes. So I went ahead and used all the lime juice for this curd.

Lemon (Lime) Curd Ingredients:
1/2 cup lemon (or lime) juice
2 tsp of finely grated zest
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
6 tbs unsalted butter

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I made a double batch, so my mixture will look bigger.

Cream your butter, add sugar and zest (I didn't use zest because I forgot to zest the limes in my juicing frenzy) and mix well.

Add your eggs in, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Throw in your lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Mix, mix, mix.

At this point it will look all curdled and gross. Don't worry.

Pour the mixture into a pot and cook over low-medium until thick, stirring constantly. I'll be honest, I always put it up to medium because I'm super impatient. As it heats it will start to thicken. You'll know it's ready when the curd coats the spoon and stays in place when you run your finger (or another utensil) down the center.

You can keep this in the refrigerator for several days or break into small batches and freeze.

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It's great by itself, as a filling for cakes, cupcakes or tarts, on toast, paired up with fruit, mixed into freshly whipped cream or a million other things.

I'm going add it to strawberry shortcake. That is, if I can stop eating it straight out of the fridge.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is here!

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Today is officially the first day of spring!

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The flowers are blooming and the baby bees are buzzing 'round.

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"I just know she is going to put this on the internet"

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I'm going to show this to everyone at his 8th grade graduation.

I knew there was a reason I've had this headband in the closet for years.

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I've had a few emails asking how I get so many good pictures. The answer is... I take a ton of pictures and some of them are bound to be good.

The others, not so much. Clockwise: Looking the wrong direction, outfit too small he can't lift his head (ha!) and the last 2 he is just trying to eat the prop.

I also sound like a total fool when I'm taking pictures of him.

Peanut! Peanut! uuuhhhhblblblblblblblbl ~clap~ hi baby! ~series of odd sounds~ ~snap fingers~ ~smack lips loudly~ uuuuhhhhh BOO!

He is bound to laugh and smile when you act like a complete idiot.

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You have to have lots of patience and a grandpa willing to move the subject around doesn't hurt.

The light was actually to harsh outside so we tried it again at home.

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This kid is so used to having his picture taken. Poor kid doesn't know any better.

Anyway, we're looking at an overcast week (with possible showers) but I can't complain much because last week was gorgeous.

Are you seeing signs of spring where you are?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tangelo Vinaigrette

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We've recently started getting a CSA box and I love that it challenges us to make new things. This is just an easy vinaigrette recipe.

Tangelo Vinaigrette
1/2 cup tangelo juice (or orange juice)
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs honey
1 shallot (1 medium size bulb? clove? or 2 small)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup walnut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

Blend the first 6 ingredients and then leaving your blender on, add the oil in slowly.

Done.

I used a very mildly flavored walnut oil but EVOO would be perfect with this.


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We used tangelos and shallots from our CSA box and the honey is homemade.

This is honey from our Auntie Birdie and Uncle Bud's (and their dog Bodhi's) bees.

Birdie, Bud and Bodhi's Bees! Say that 5 times fast.

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I served it with a salad made of baby greens, pea flowers, toasted walnuts and tangelo segments.

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Originally I thought we were getting arugula flowers but after googling I noticed they didn't look like arugula flowers.

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As I was pulling the flowers, I noticed this.

I thought about not mentioning it to B. He had tasted them the first day and said they tasted like pea tendrils. He told me we should saute them. I told him they were supposed to be arugula flowers and we should add them to salad.

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I threw them on the salad anyway. Pretty, no?

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By the way, I have loads of citrus right now. I decided to juice some and you can expect some more citrus recipes coming up.

Left to right you see lime juice, tangelo juice and lemon juice.

I also have oranges, madarin orange and tangerines... any recipe suggestions?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Japan With Love & Bloggers Day of Silence

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The images from Japan are haunting these days. I can hardly turn on the TV or look on the internet without a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

The footage from that day...the days that followed...from what is happening now...is just inconceivable. It seems to be one disaster after another. I look at my baby, my family, my little world and try hard not to imagine in great detail what it would be like to be in their shoes. Even then I am sure I will never understand that kind of devastation.

I've only just read about this project or I would have written about it sooner. Adrienne posted about it and I had to follow suit. Adrienne has lived in Japan and has both friends and family there. She pointed out some lovely stories of survival (I'll never forget the face of this baby girl who survived drowning and debris unharmed) and these awesome stories of good will translated from a series of twitter posts.

Adrienne writes, "And though it can be a horribly helpless feeling viewing it all from thousands of miles away, wishing you could go help dig through the rubble with your own hands, stories of hope and help come from this side of the ocean as well."

For Japan With Love is a fundraiser put together by some bloggers with all donations going to ShelterBox. ShelterBox was one of the first groups asked by Japan for help and have been there since Saturday. They provide disaster relief boxes to people in need.

"Each large green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. A whole box costs $1,000 (US), so we're hoping to raise enough to send 5 boxes."

As I write this blog post they have exceeded their goal of $5,000 and are nearing $22,000. That is 22 families with emergency shelter.

To read more about ShelterBox click here and to donate thru For Japan With Love click Here.

You can help too. Help financially by visiting the site and donating or just help get the word out by tweeting, posting on facebook or blogging about For Japan With Love.

I'll be following tomorrow's Blogger's Day of Silence and I'll be checking back with you on Saturday.

Thank you everyone!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!

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It's the Peanut's first St. Paddy's and I'll be honest here... we have nothing planned.

This is odd considering our obvious roots in Ireland.

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I'm pretty sure Peanut won't know the difference.

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Next year will be different. I was reading Sasha's posts regarding St. Patricks Day (it's one of her favorite holidays) and all of their traditions and I thought back to my holidays growing up.

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My mom celebrated every single holiday. I was always excited when I woke up on a holiday because I knew that something special would be waiting. It meant special treats or special eats, a card or little gift. It meant celebrating and it definitely wasn't going to be like any other day.

I want to give that to Peanut as he grows up.

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This picture is bad but it makes me laugh. He is sooo tired here- look at the bags under his eyes.

Anyway, it makes me laugh because there will be so many people who will look like this come tomorrow night. It's the tired eyes at half-mast, the little delirious smile, the wobbly head and quiet possibly the drool.

That look means too much green beer. Ha!

Will there be any green beer on your horizon today?

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So, do you have any St. Patrick's Day traditions?
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