Friday, 12 September 2014

Back To School Bento with HINODE RICE

Hi everyone! I haven't been very active lately due to work commitments. But I think I also told you some time ago that I was working on an exciting project :).

Now let me reveal what it's all about! Around two months ago I was contacted by HINODE - a rice company based in Northern California, to make a Back to School bento, which would be used as an ad for the SAFEWAY Smart Shopper eScrip Magazine edition this fall (if you want to read or browse the magazine, you don't have to register. Simply "view anonymously", then you will be able to see the "Magazine View" option that you can click to view the content).

HINODE sent me a few packets of their brown and white rice varieties, which I used to make this Back to School bento. If you live down under, I am pretty sure you have heard of SunRice - one of Australia's largest rice and branded convenience food exporters. Both HINODE and SunRice are basically from the same company trading under different names.

Here is a snapshot of the Back to School Bento advert which can be found in the eMagazine.

http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?bt=vg&tqnm=vijjdcn44884286&o=120336&c=ET&p=ONq5U9yg

As you can see in the ad, HINODE is currently holding a 75 cents off coupon campaign from August 1st - September 23rd, 2014. Get the coupon by clicking this link.

It has been a fun experience working with HINODE and here is a close-up of the Back To School bento I made for them :)!
 

And here is the full recipe - just click to zoom the image below.


I also worked on two other bento related projects with HINODE and I will write more about it in my next post, so stay tuned :). For the time being, why don't you check out HINODE's social media? I especially love their Pinterest page - so full of wonderful rice recipe ideas! A few days left till weekend, yay!

Friday, 11 July 2014

8 Ingredients Bento for Bento&Co 2014 Contest


I participated in Bento&Co's 2014 Contest for fun and submitted my bento photo a few days ago, actually on the last minutes - I thought I wouldn't be able to take part in the contest as I was rather short on time, but Bento&Co extended the contest period, so I decided to participate.

This year's theme is: OUR INGREDIENTS + YOUR BENTO. We were expected to create a bento meal using only the following ingredients plus 1 ingredient of our choice:
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli 
  • Rice 
  • Eggs
  • Chicken (or tofu for vegetarians)
  • The extra ingredient I chose: lettuce 
We also had to include a short description of the bento photo we submitted and here is mine:

Even though I love charaben, this year I decided to submit a more traditional-looking bento. I think it's something that is less intimidating to make and certainly more applicable for everyday bento. I played around with the natural vibrance of the pre-determined ingredients to create a practical, nutritious and delicious bento which can be whipped up by everyone who wants to spend just a few extra minutes in the kitchen. 

CONTENTS
Oval Bento Box:
steamed white rice, steamed purple rice (mixture of black+white rice), scrambled egg, teriyaki chicken dumplings, blanched broccoli, cherry tomatoes (red & yellow), carrot flowers (orange & purple- decorated with egg white and broccoli stems), mini carrot coins, mini broccoli stem coins and lettuce. 

Rectangular Bento Box:
chicken yakitori skewers (with carrot slices and broccoli stems), potato salad, cherry tomatoes, carrot tamagoyaki, blanched broccoli, carrot flower and lettuce.

The results were out yesterday and here are the bentos of the two grand winners, aren't they lovely :)? I love the Japan Grand Winner's bento, it's simple but it's got beautiful colour scheme, pretty arrangement and it looks yummy too. The international grand winner seemed to have spent SO MUCH time preparing the bento, and I can imagine why she won this contest. Congrats to both of them :)!


My bento managed to be in the top 10 and I am happy with the result, since I didn't partipate to win. I just wanted to motivate myself to make more bentos, since I've not been very active in bentoing lately.

The following are the bentos of the 10 finalists. I really like the first bento - another simple bento but it looks so delicious! I hope Bento&Co will also show the entries from the other contestants. I am sure there are so many good ones, especially because I read there are more than 200 participants!

Which bento do you like best? You don't have to be partial to mine because you're visiting my blog ;)! I think my one is not so bad, but I really like the two bentos I mentioned before, the one from the Japanese grand winner and the first photo of the top 10 finalist.

Anyway, hopefully I can blog a bit more in the near future. It's Friday tomorrow, so hang in there :)!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

BENTO BOOK GIVEAWAY + BENTO CONTEST

As you know I recently published a bento book. Even though it's a bit late, to celebrate this event, I have collaborated with the beautiful  and talented Nami from Just One Cookbook to give away a free copy of my book to 5 LUCKY WINNERS :)! 

Thomas, the founder of the biggest online retailer for bento supplies, Bento&Co, has also kindly offered to give a $20 gift voucher for the first 2 winners, so you can have $20 off when you shop at his lovely store. He's got gorgeous products, from bento boxes, bento accessories to beautiful Japanese stationery and fun gadgets! Check them out!

Nami created a super fun video of the bento she made using one of the recipes in my bento book - "Mini Frog + Chick Sandwich Bento". Absolutely LOVE IT!!!


This giveaway is open for everyone WORLDWIDE! So absolutely anyone can enter :)! To read how to win please go to Nami's website or just click the following banner. The giveaway ends on Sunday, 6th July 2014 at 12 p.m. PST and the winners will be announced on Monday, 7th July 2014. So hurry up, you might be the lucky winner :)!!
http://www.justonecookbook.com/giveaways/bento-delights-cookbook-giveaway/
Besides the giveway, I also would like to let you know that Bento&Co is holding another BENTO CONTEST starting from today, Thursday, 19th June 2014 to Friday, 9th July 2014. The first winner would even get the chance to visit Kyoto, Japan for 2 days inclusive accommodation! How exciting is that? Read all about the requirements to enter at Bento&Co's site.

http://en.bentoandco.com/pages/2014-international-bento-contest-6th-edition
Hope you all will join in the fun! Currently I am rather busy working on a challenging yet exciting project. You all will find out about it in a few weeks' time :). Stay tuned!

UPDATE
The giveaway ended 2 days ago and here are the results. Apologies for the delay and congrats to the 5 lucky winners :)! Please contact me with your shipping details via email: cookinggallery@yahoo.de and I will post the book shortly :).

Thank you for participating! 637 comments, wow!!


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Cute Robot Taco Rice Bento


A theme which I had never done before - robots! This edible robot is also pretty simple to make and you don't need any special cutters to make it - I used a small kitchen knife to make the little shapes before assembling them together, and a pair of micro tip scissors to cut out the nori eyes and smile.

Below you will find the ingredients I used to make this friendly robot - pretty simple, right? This bento is also healthy as it contains plenty of fresh produce. Here are the contents:

1. Steamed Brown Rice
2. Edible Robot (made from vegetables, nori and Colby cheese)
3. Taco Meat (made from organic ground beef)
4. Chopped Cherry Tomatoes
5. Chopped Avocado
6. Corn
7. Radish Slices and Stars
8. Carrot Flowers
9. Lettuce

Do you know that Taco Rice is originated from Okinawa, Japan? Due to the large presence of the American military in the 1980s, Matsuzo Gibo created this dish and introduced it in his cafe's menu to appeal to the US military personnels that were stationed just minutes away from his cafe. Nowadays Taco Rice is one of the most popular Okinawan dishes

Usually you top taco rice with salsa and a dollop of sour cream, but I'd mixed the sour cream and salsa in the taco meat, so it's not necessary to include both items in the bento box (which I think is better for transport purposes too). 

Hope you enjoyed this post and I wish you all a lovely weekend :). 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Go Traditional ! Practical, Filling & Delicious Bento Lunches

I haven't made any traditional bento boxes for some time, even though I do enjoy making them as much as making character bento - this is also the reason why my newly published bento book focuses on both subjects "Charaben" and "Tradtional Bento" :)

Do you remember these bento meals I whipped up in the past? Want to know the recipes? Check out the links below :)!

1. Korean Spicy Stir-Fried Pork Bento
2. Ebi Fry Bento
3. Chicken Katsu Bento
Farfalle Onigiri Bento
5. Pink Sakura Bento
6.  Szechuan Wontons & Udon Noodle Soup Bento

Browse the TRADITIONAL BENTO section of this blog for more ideas and inspirations. Have a lovely weekend, everyone :)!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Rilakkuma Bento Collection


I never noticed that I have made that many Rilakkuma-themed bento meals! I think I have created 14 or 15 or so in total so far, even though I just featured 12 of them above (well, okay, if you are a super active charaben artist, this number probably means nothing to you ;), but to me it's a LOT :)!). If you want to know how to make these Rilakkuma-themed bento boxes, please go to the following links :)!

1. Koala Rilakkuma Bento
2. Tiger Rilakkuma Bento
3. Rilakkuma  & Co Bento
4. Rilakkuma in Totoro Suits Bento
5. Rilakumma-inspired Bear in Bee Suit Bento
6. Sleepy Rilakkuma Bento
7. Moo-Cow Rilakkuma Bento
8. Surprised Rilakkuma Bento
9. Simply Rilakkuma Bento
10. Rilakkuma Inari Sushi Bento
11. Adorable Rilakkuma Bento
12. Rilakkuma & Kiiroitori Bento

I am working on a bento related project at the moment which I will reveal in a few weeks' time. Hopefully I will be able to come up with a new bento in the next few days even though I will be pretty busy :). For the time being, enjoy being Rilakkuma-overloaded ;)!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Bento Typography - The Moomins


I did a Moomin-themed bento in 2011. Read all about the bento HERE :). Have a lovely day :)!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Keep Calm + Make Bento


Just want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend :)! If you want to find out more about these 6 bentos above, here are the links:


And...recently I also just changed the cover of my bento cookbook. I like the new cover much better and if you should buy the book in about 3-5 working days, you will get the book with the new cover instead of the old one. Which one do you like better?








If you want to read more about my newly published bento cookbook, find all about it HERE. It's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fishpond and Powell's. Or simply search for my book on other online retailers, you might find it there too :)! My book is currently out of stock in some of these retailers, but they will be available again within a few days, so stay tuned :)!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Disney Frozen Elsa Bento

This bento is dedicated to my little niece, who is a Disney Frozen fan!


I think this is the second time that I create a bento that shows a character with more realistic human features. The first time was more than 2 years ago when I made this Marie Antoinette Bento ;). I prefer making animals or other cute non-human cartoon characters, because I think they are just better objects for food art, at least they don't make me feel like a cannibal *lol*. When I should make another bento that features a person, I probably should try to 'cartoonise' it a bit more, like this "Happy Children Bento" or this "Green-Eyed Wizard Bento"  :). 

Elsa is made out of soy-sauce flavoured rice (face), curry-flavoured rice (hair), cooked egg white (eyes), nori seaweed (eyebrows and lashes) and tomato (lips). Olaf is made from hard boiled egg decorated with cheese, nori and carrot. The side dishes include Japanese fried chicken, egg, ham flower, cheese/carrot snowflake, lettuce and a piece of cherry.

I recently published a bento book as well :)! Read all about the book and where to buy HERE!
 

Friday, 16 May 2014

My Bento Cookbook - BENTO DELIGHTS

Yup, you've read that correctly, my very first and my very own bento cookbook :-)! After months of hard work, it's finally done! This was also one of the reasons why I had been in an on-and-off again relationship with my blog the last couple of months. So, let me introduce you to my new little baby: Bento Delights - adorable + stylish lunches on the go. You even get to know my name too :). Hello, my name is Syntia, even though so far I have only been known as CG virtually. After knowing my name, I don't appear that mysterious distant anymore right ;)??

I'd thought about writing a bento book since mid 2011. Numerous people (blog readers, Facebook followers, etc) have contacted me via e-mail or Facebook messages, and inquired if I would publish a bento book in the near future, since they'd love to have one. I told them that it was something that I would think about and would try to fit into my schedule. However, due to professional commitment, I was regularly short on time and I just never had the chance to work on this project until a few months ago. But now, I've kept my promise and I hope this book would be helpful for everyone who wants to embark on a journey of bento-making or is just curious about it :)!

If you wish to know more about this book, read on, but be warned, this will be a quite long post!


Bento Delights is a 118 pages full-colour paperback (8.5 x 11 inches). It contains 31 bento menus and 100 recipes. The book is divided into 2 main sections: Character Bento (Charaben) and Traditional Bento. But, you will also find other information related to bento, such as Bento Basics, Tools & Accessories, Bento Helpers, etc. Please find below the complete list of Contents.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
Bento Basics
Bento Boxes + Tools + Accessories
Character Bento
Traditional Bento
Additional Recipes
rice
pickles + salads
stir-fries + other favourites
tamagoyaki
Further Tips + Tricks
onigiri
colouring rice
bento helpers
idea list for a colourful bento box
pretty bento accents
Resource Guide
Glossary
Afterword

Keep scrolling to get a sneak peek of my book.









WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN THIS BOOK
  • 16 Charaben menus including step-by-step photographs
  • 15 Traditional Bento menus and each features a full-colour photo of the final bento
  • 100 recipes (Focus: Modern Asian - especially Japanese, Chinese & Korean)
  • Other bento related information.
PLEASE NOTE
  • Even though half of the book features cute bento ideas, this book was not written with the aim to give parents fun lunch ideas for kids who are picky eaters. A lot of the recipes are more geared towards older audience who are into bento, Japanese cusine or modern Asian foods in general.
  • Out of the 31 bento menus, 5 have been previously featured in this blog (even though I just briefly talked about them and didn't really include any recipes). The other 26 bento menus were exclusively made for this cookbook.
  • Before you buy the book, check out the CHARABEN and TRADITIONAL BENTO sections in my blog - if you like my bento style, chance is you might like this book too.
WHERE TO BUY
Note: Amazon has a "Look Inside" function, which is great, since you will be able to see more sample pages of my book. Unfortunately, I don't have any control on which pages to display, and since Amazon doesn't really show the pages in order, the design might look rather inconsistent.

BUY DIRECTLY FROM ME
If your country is not listed above or if you would like to buy my book outside the mentioned online retailers, you can directly purchase the book from me. My printer is based in the US, but I can arrange the shipping/handling for you - and yes, my printer ships worldwide! Contact me for a quote!

DISCLAIMER
  • Even though I now have one bento book published, I by no means would like to claim that I am a bento expert. Bentoing (and cooking) is just a hobby of mine and an outlet to express my creative urges - my educational/professional background actually has absolutely nothing to do with the culinary arts, but I've always been rather artsy since I was younger. I also love to cook, I love to eat and I love to create pretty things. So, the result is this bento book :).
FURTHER INFORMATION
  • If you have any questions regarding  this book, leave me a comment below, or simply shoot me an e-mail to: cookinggallery@yahoo.de
  • If you would like to have a hardcover edition, you can contact me and I can arrange to order it for you, but the price for hardcover is of course higher than paperback. E-mail and ask me for a quote, and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Three Little Cats Bento

Finally I had the time to post this cat-themed bento I promised I would make! Can you guess that each kitty is just made out of 1 tablespoon of cooked rice? So yes, they're pretty small rice balls, which are actually great for little kids who certainly eat smaller portions than us. The brown kitty on the left is flavoured with fish floss and the yellow kitty on the right is rice ball mixed with boiled egg yolk. The side dishes are pretty similar to the sides in my previous Baby Minion Bento, since I was actually just using some leftovers (but what is a bento without using leftovers? Nightmare!! *lol* ;) - if you bento, I am sure you get what I mean :)). But I did whip up a small portion of Korean rice cakes with ground chicken.

I used the super chick "Large Bento Glamour Kitty" bento box I got from CasaBento (yep, again ;)! I think 95% of my bento supplies are from CasaBento - love you CasaBento ;D)!). If you are into cats, I think this is the perfect box for you. This box costs €31.99 and is handpainted! It is also microwave and dishwasher safe.

The cute food picks shown in today's bento are also from CasaBento. They have a pretty good selection of adorable food picks, which can function both as mini forks and cute accesories.


That's it for today. Hopefully this bento brought a smile to your face :).

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Despicable Me: Baby Minion Bento



Wow, I made another bento again today :)! I kept my promise :). I told you yesterday that I didn't really like how my Olaf Bento turned out, but I am pretty happy with the Baby Minion bento I made today, I think it's very cute :)!

The two baby minions in the middle are mini onigiri mixed with boiled egg yolk, and the other four minions are tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omellete). The sides are pretty simple: steamed broccoli, oven-baked breaded shrimps, pan-fried meatballs, cherry tomatoes, edamame and pistaschios.


I am going to make a cat-themed bento tomorrow - I think I mostly made piggies, teddy bears, chicks and pandas so far. So stay tuned :)!

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Monday, 5 May 2014

Disney Frozen Olaf Bento

Hello again, everyone:)! When was the last time I posted here? I think more than 2 months ago! I am such a lazy blogger ;). But well, I was actually working on a very exciting project which I will tell you in the near future :). For the time being, let me post this Olaf bento.


Everyone around seems to be crazy about "Frozen". My little niece sings the song "Let It Go" all the time and I started to wonder what was actually so great about this new Disney animation. So I watched the dvd last week, and the animation was fantastic, but story-wise, I think that there are other Disney films which are much more engaging and interesting - if you are a diehard Frozen fan, I apologise, I didn't mean to offend anyone...;)! I grew up watching Disney myself and I still think that older Disney animated films like "Beauty and the Beast", "Mulan" or even "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" better than "Frozen". I also watched "Tangled" a few weeks ago and found it much more engaging. Maybe I should watch "Frozen" for a second time and who knows, I might change my mind ;)?

Anyway, I was hesitating to put up this Olaf bento, since I wasn't actually happy with the result - the Olaf looks more like a little troll ;) and it was pretty challenging making him out of mini bocconcini. The photography doesn't help either. I am still relying on my little pocket camera and great weather (and today's weather sucks!). But since I don't want my blog to sort of die down, and it's also long overdue that I blog about this beautiful wooden bento box I got from CasaBento ages ago, I decided to showcase this not so pretty Olaf bento.

First, let's have a look at this little beauty!



This bento box is handmade with lacquared bamboo and costs €29.99. Like most other wooden bento boxes, this box is not dishwasher and microwave safe. But if you love traditional bento boxes, go for it, the quality is great and it looks gorgeous too.

Now, let's go back to the Olaf bento again. Even though it doesn't look very nice, it's pretty tasty. Olaf is made from bococcini - mini fresh mozzarella, and he is sitting on top of purple rice (a mixture of white and black rice). The sides include a few grape tomatoes, boiled egg,  cabbage kimchi, creamy meatballs with mushrooms and fruit.

Creamy Meatballs with Mushrooms
Ingredients

Pan-Fried Meatballs
  • 200 g ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder, or to taste
  • pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 6 Tbsp almond meal (or 3 Tbsp flour)
  • oil for pan-frying
 Creamy Mushroom Sauce
  • 10 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 6 Tbsp cream
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • chicken stock powder, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
Instructions
  • Meatballs: Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs (except the oil). Shape into little balls and pan-fry until all the sides are golden brown and the meatballs are cooked through.
  • Sauce: Add oil to a well heated pan. Saute the chopped onion until lightly brown. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in the cream and white wine. Season with chicken powder and pepper.
  • Add the pan-fried meatballs into the mushroom sauce and toss to coat. Serve.
Hopefully I can come up with another bento tomorrow or the day after. So, until next time :)!


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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Little Brown Bear Bento


This is one bento which I made months ago, but haven't had the chance to post until today. The bear is made of meat patties and decorated with cheese, nori seaweed and blanched carrot. Basically, before you pan-fry the meat patties, you have to shape the patties to resemble a bear's head and ears. Once done, you pan-fry the patties, season and coat with any kind of sauce you like, let cool and then add the edible facial features.

Some of the side dishes include a small portion of mac n cheese, sauteed soy sauce chicken with corns, pan-fried prawn cakes, boiled edamame beans, cherry tomato n cheese and a kamaboko (fish cake) rose.


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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Rilakkuma & Totoro Bento Platter


Made this a few days ago for my little niece. This time I placed everything on a plate instead of a bento box, since it was meant to be eaten at home. The rilakkuma bear rice balls are filled with chicken teriyaki and the mini totoros are boiled quail eggs seasoned with soy sauce and decorated with cheese and nori seaweed.

I am thinking to make Miffi or Winnie the Pooh for my next bento. Let's see what I am going to come up with :)! See you soon!

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Chinese New Year 2014 - Horse Bento


Tomorrow is Chinese New Year's Eve, and to get in the mood, I made a horse-themed bento to celebrate the coming year of the horse. Hopefully this will be a better year for all of us :)! This bento is dedicated to my dad who is a horse  ;) - this just sounds funny, so I had to put a smiley! But it was my little niece who gobbled down the bento :). I am glad that I have one little monster (an adorable one, that is) nearby who loves to eat my creations :-).

This bento contains loads of eggs  so it's full of protein ;)! I actually wanted to make something more festive, but I forgot my big bento box at home, and as currently I am staying over at my sister's place, I had to make do with the small boxes available.

I also made another bento before - well, not exactly bento actually, since I placed the food on a plate instead of a bento box, but I am going to save it for my next post. So stay tuned :)!


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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Little Kitten Bento + Tutorial


Hey everyone! For people who have previously visited my blog regularly, please don't get shocked ;)! I am sure you have noticed that I recently changed the look of my blog ;). I just wanted a change, because I simply couldn't see that same, old blog skin anymore, and I also wanted to personalise my blog a bit more. Previously I used a free blogskin available online somewhere, but this time, everything is designed by yours truly ;). So, please don't be too harsh on me, I know that there are lots of rooms for improvement, especially because I don't have any knowledge in coding. I was thinking to use a different platform other than blogger, because it's going to give me more freedom in designing my blog. But then again, I've been using blogger for (wow!) a bit more than 4 years now, so I decided to stay here and be loyal to blogger ;). 

I will nevertheless add a new section to my blog, such as a gallery to improve audience experience - I am aware that my blog is not the easiest to navigate. If you think that there are other cool things I should add to my blog, please do let me know :). 

Anyway, back to the bento above - I actually made it ages ago, but haven't posted about it until today. It's pretty simple to make and you don't need god-mighty skills to make it as long as you own some cookie cutters and a nori punch. The kitties are made from fried spam, cheese, carrot and nori seaweed. The sides are a portion of boiled corn kernels, edamame beans and pan-fried scotch egg.


I will make a horse-themed bento within the next few days since it's my dad's year as well :). My dad is currently here, so it's going to be dedicated to him :). Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Cute Animal Sandwich Bento


After being MIA (again) for 2 months, finally I managed to make another bento. This bento is actually a new year present for my friend, Ms Baggins (remember this girl, who ordered the Star Wars & Lego bento from me some time ago:)?). Her 2 year-old nephew is visiting her from Perth and she wants to give him something special and a little different. Since her nephew is currently into animal farms, I made him mini ham & cheese sandwiches with cute animal faces (not exactly animal farms, but I think he wouldn't mind it ;)). I hope he would like this bento :). 

Besides the mini sandwiches, I also made two panda onigiris filled with fried chicken nuggets and tonkatsu sauce and some maki sushi rolls filled with chicken teriyaki and some veggies.

Let me end this post by wishing you all lovely readers a wonderful new year. May 2014 brings joy and happiness to all of you :).


The pictures look somewhat blurry, maybe I really need a new camera ;).

 

Till next time :)!


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