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Day 16, in which we find that

The Cub is an adorable freak. I love him, one of the things I love about him most is that he’s a freak and hasn’t learned to see the world they way everyone else is ‘supposed’ to. He does, however, drive me nutso sometimes with it. Take tonight for example, The Cub thinks that pie is poison. So I popped his filling in a dish, cooked his pie top separate and did him veggies like us. He bloody loved it – he was’t keen on the carrots being squishy but that’s ok. If I’d served him it all together he’d have freaked. Still moving on.

So, what did I do?

First off I DID NOT MAKE THE PASTRY, I can, but life is far to short to do that kind of thing. I followed the recipe in a frying but used only 700g of beef cut into us size chunks, for pan for step 1. Put put the bits in the slow cooker. Bunged the lid on and let it cook on low for 8 hours.

I followed the bacon (pack of lardons from Aldi, really Aldi should have me on comission the amount of bigging up I do for them) and mushrooms step. There was no time to allow it to cool before putting the pie top on, I’m NOT a pie purist so to me is anything with pastry on it. Did the mushrooms etc. before it went in the oven. Popped in the oven to cook the pastry, served with boiled potatoes and peas. Twas V yum and there was enough left over to make 3 more portions, so that’s in the freezer now.

I did forget to take a picture of it, so use your imaginations.

Tomorrow night is Paprika Pork in a pot definitely from the Good Food magazine.

  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 600g pork fillets
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 300ml/½ pint chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100ml crème fraîche (about half a tub)
  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan add the onions and fry for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly coloured.
  2. Cut the pork into sizeable chunks, then add to the pan and stir over a fairly high heat to seal and brown them all over. Stir in the paprika, cook briefly, then add the stock and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover and cook for 30-35 minutes, until the pork is tender.
  4. Stir in the crème fraîche and simmer for a further 2 minutes. (You can prepare the dish to this point up to 2 days ahead or freeze for up to 3 months.) If you have a few chives or a bit of parsley handy, snip this over the pork before serving with rice and a green vegetable – broccoli or stir-fried cabbage make the perfect accompaniment to this simple but delicious dish.

Old Picture of The Cub

New Picture of The Cub

Peace, love and pizza!

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Day 15, in which I explain

why the only recipe’s I follow are baking ones. I use recipe’s as a guideline not an absolute. Robin can’t do that and it drives him up the wall, this is a bonus. Baking to me is a dark art, I rarely do it and when I do tend to follow the recipe slavishly as I don’t have the 10,000 hours required to be as spontaneous with desserts. I understand that other people may not have the same cavalier attitude (cavalier attitude, not said enough in my opinion), I do towards meal meals iyswim. So I know what I can do with the recipes that I change due to lack or ingredients or whimsy.

Which is why I’m putting the recipe’s up and then telling you what I do, so last night was the Brie thing. The boys don’t like brie sometimes they think it tastes a bit amoniaey (legit word!) and tastes a bit like the smell of wee so I use a packet of normal cream cheese. Robin not so keen on the lemon so a quarter of the lemon zest and about a teaspoon of juice. Mixed the non-pasta ingredients and left to ‘infuse’ for the length of time it took to cook the pasta.

Picture:

It was yum, the boys had a minor revolt. The Cub did NOT like the sauce on his pasta and Robin complained about the amount of lemon – again. I thought it was extremely yum, so yahboo shucks to them.

Tomorrow is soooooooper complicated, but not really, beef in ale pie, from a magazine, I have no idea which one.

For the Beef

  • small handful (grr) dried procini mushrooms (about 10 g/1/2 oz) not essential
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg 2lb 4 oz braising steak (buy this as a whole piece and cut it yourself into large chunks)
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 300 ml/1/2 pt dark ale
  • 2 beef stock cubes mixed with 400 ml/14 fl oz boiling water
  • small bunch each thyme, bay leaf and parsley, tied together
  • 200g/80z smoked bacon, lardons or chopped rashers
  • 200g/8oz chestnut mushrooms, halved

For the pastry

  • 650g/1lb 7oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g/9oz lard or cold butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten, to glaze
  1. Start by braising the beef. If you’re using the porcini, cover them in boiling water for 20 mins, then squeeze out but keep the soaking water. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat half the oil in a large casserole dish, brown the meat really well in batches, then set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pan, adding a drizzle more oil, then cook on a low heat for 5 mins until coloured. Add the soaked mushrooms, sizzle for 1 min more, then scatter over the sugar and flour, stirring until the flour turns brown. Tip the meat and any juices back into the pan and give it all a good stir. Pour over the ale, stock and porcini soaking liquid, discarding the last few drops. Season stew, tuck in the herbs and bring everything to a simmer. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for about 2 hrs, until the meat is really tender.
  2. While the stew is cooking, heat a drop more oil in a frying pan and sizzle the bacon for 3 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for 4 mins until golden. Remove from the heat and, when the stew is cooked, stir them through. Leave everything to cool completely – better still, make this up to 2 days in advance and keep it in the fridge as the pie will be better if the filling is fridge-cold when added. Can also be frozen for up to 3 months and defrosted when needed.
  3. Make the pastry up to 2 days before you want to assemble the pie. Crumble the flour and lard, or butter, together with a generous pinch of sea salt until completely combined, then add up to 200ml ice-cold water to make a soft dough. This can be done in a food processor if you want. Knead the pastry, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hr. The pastry can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge or frozen for up to a month.
  4. When you want to make the pie, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and place a flat baking tray in the oven. Heavily grease a 24-28cm pie dish and dust well with flour. Cut a third off the pastry and set aside. Roll out the pastry to a thick-ish round that will easily line the pie dish with an overhang, then line the tin. Add the beef to the dish using a slotted spoon so some gravy is left in the container, as you don’t want too much sauce in the pie. You want the filling to be slightly higher than the rim of the dish. If you have a bit too much, set it aside.
  5. Roll out the remaining pastry to a thick round big enough to cover the dish. Brush the edges of the pastry in the dish with egg yolk, then cover with the pastry lid. Trim the edges, crimp the pastry, then re-roll your trimmings to make a decoration, if you like – I always decorate my pies with pastry leaves. Brush the top heavily with egg. Make a few little slits in the centre of the pie, place on the hot baking tray, then bake for 40 mins until golden. Leave the pie to rest for 10 mins while you heat up the gravy left in the container. Serve the pie at the table with a jug of gravy and a big pile of something green and leafy.

Old Cub Picture

New Cub Picture

Love, peace and pizza!

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Day 14, in which we kick back and

do very little cooking actually because it’s fish fingers and chips night.

Chopped up a couple of cornichons, a few capers and mixed in some mayo, left in fridge for day.

Bought some fish fingers in batter, which is MUCH my preferred way of having them and some Chris Normals (see Day 13 for the reference)

Really? A Picture? You wouldn’t want to click on this link and see Matt Smith instead? Also, he’s wet 😀

Tomorrow, however, requires a ‘bit’ more in the way of work, here’s  the original recipe:

Fettuccine with melting Brie, Cherry tomatoes and Basil – can’t tell you where the recipe is from but it’s a magazine so probably Olive, Good Food, Jamie Oliver or similar, serves 4:

  • 300g vegetarian Brie, rind removed, cut into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Large handful (grrrr) fresh basil chopped
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon and a squeeze of juice
  • 400 g fettuccine or spaghetti
  1. Put the brie, garlic, oil, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Season, mix together and leave for 10 minutes to infuse.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water, then drain.
  3. Toss the hot pasta with the Brie mixture, then serve.

Nothing much happened today except we are going out for tea and I’m going out and having drinks with an actual adult so I’m getting a social life – yay.

Old Picture of The Cub

New Picture of The Cub

Peace, love and pizza!

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Day 13 in which we actually have what is planned

but don’t make it like the recipe.

Here’s how I did it:

1 red onion and 3 cloves of garlic, blast in the food processor with the sharp blade attachment until v small. Or, as they are known in this family, invisible onions. I’ve been known to do this with a few onions for the week but it makes the fridge smell. I’ve also bought a bag of cut onions from Asda and popped them in the freezer to use – I keep meaning to do this with invisible onions but keep forgetting, or there is no room in the freezer.

Fry off until soft but not brown in some veggie oil – you know how much you like to use for this.

Add the mince beef (or mince beef and pork if you can get it, better flavour and texture imnsho). Fry until browned. If you have to much and are doing it a bit at a time plonk the browned beef straight into the slow cooker. If you’re using mushrooms (The Cub doesn’t like mushrooms so we don’t bother) fry them with the mince beef until they release their liquid.

When all the minced meat is in the slow cooker add 1 carton of passata and or 1 can of tomatoes (chopped or otherwise).

You know what your family likes, mine likes mixed herbs so I put 3 heaped teaspoons in.

An anchovy – I promise it will disappear during cooking and you will not taste it in the end. Obviously, if you have a fish allergy don’t do this!

A tablespoon of lemon juice.

Mix.

Put on low and allow to cook for 8 hours, whilst it fills your house with garlic and spag bol fumes.

Serve with garlic bread and salad if you’re feeling sassy.

It’s just as nice as the other one and nowhere near as expensive.

Spag Bol Picture:

Tomorrow it’s fish fingers and chips – there’s no recipe for this as they are coming out of a box but I buy the more expensive type because the fish is better. One day I will make these though:

From the Good Food Website

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 85g white breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g skinless sustainable white fish, sliced into 12 strips
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 140g frozen peas, cooked and cooled
  • 100g young leaf spinach
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Pour the beaten egg into a shallow dish. Tip the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Mix the lemon zest into the breadcrumbs along with the oregano and some salt and pepper.
  2. Brush a non-stick baking sheet with half the oil. Dip the fish strips into the egg, then roll them in the breadcrumbs. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 20 mins until golden.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the mayo with a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss the spinach leaves and peas with a squeeze more lemon juice and the remaining oil. Serve the fish fingers with the spinach and peas and a spoonful of the lemony mayo.

I do make my own ‘tartar’ sauce with some capers and cornichons chopped up into mayo.

And, instead of the oven chips we’ll be having I’ll try making these:

Heston’s Triple Cooked Chips

  • 1kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into chips (approx. 2 × 2 × 6cm)
  • Groundnut or grapeseed oil
  • Salt
  1. Put the cut chips into a bowl under running water for 5 minutes to wash the starch off.
  2. Place 2 litres of cold tap water in a large saucepan and add the potatoes. Place the pan over a medium heat and simmer until the chips are almost falling apart (approximately 20–30 minutes, depending on the potato).
  3. Carefully remove the cooked chips and place them on a cooling rack to dry out. Then place the rack in the freezer for at least 1 hour to remove more moisture.
  4. Heat a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan no more than half filled with oil (to a depth of around 10cm) to 130ºC. Fry the chips in small batches until a light crust forms (approximately 5 minutes), remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
  5. Put the potatoes on a cooling rack and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. (At this stage, if you don’t want to cook and serve immediately, the chips can be kept in the fridge for 3 days.)
  6. Heat the oil in the deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 180ºC and fry the chips until golden (approximately 7 minutes). Drain and sprinkle with salt.

Tomorrow, is not that day.

Which reminds me chips in our house are called Chris Normals due to Robin’s inability to read clear handwriting and mistaking Chips Normal for Chris Norman. Crinkle cut chips are Chris Crinkles 😀

Old Cub Picture:

New Cup Picture:

Peace, love and pizza!

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Day 12, in which we go off the rails – again

So, I could convince not a soul in the house that garbage soup was a good idea. It sounds vile but what it really is, is a soup that uses up all those left over veggies and any bits of meat that are lurking in the freezer and actually it’s pretty damn good. I like thyme and bay leaves as herbs and serve with either home made bread or a really nice loaf. We have no bakers locally, which is a shame so I do have to go to the supermarket. Here’s tomorrow’s recipe from the BBC Good Food site:

  • 500g Fresh Beef Mince.
  • 400g Dried Spaghetti.
  • 4 Rashers of Smoked Streaky Bacon, finely diced.
  • 2 Tins of Plum/Chopped Tomatoes.
  • 6 Fresh Cherry Tomatoes.
  • 2 Medium Onions, peeled and finely diced.
  • 2 Sticks of Celery, trimmed and finely diced.
  • 2 Carrots, trimmed and finely diced.
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely diced.
  • 1 Medium Chilli (optional), seeded and finely sliced
  • 75g Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus extra for grating over.
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube.
  • Glass of red wine (optional)
  • Herbs:
  • 2-3 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary.
  • Handful of Fresh Basil, plus extra for Garnish.
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano.
  • 1-2 Fresh Bay Leaves.
  • Olive oil.
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper.

Get yourself a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, and place it on a medium heat. Add a good lug of olive oil and gently fry your bacon until golden and crisp, then reduce the heat slightly and add your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Next remove the leaves from the Rosemary sprigs and add them to the pot, discarding the sprigs. Move everything around and fry for around 8-10 minutes until the veg has softened. Next, increase the heat slightly, add the mince and stir until the meat is browned all over. Stir in your tins of plum/chopped tomatoes, (plum tomatoes are best as they contain less water, but either will turn out great!). Add your remaining herbs, tomato puree, stock cube, chilli and if using, the wine. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and throw them in aswell. Give everything a stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the plum tomatoes as you go and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low-medium, put the lid on and leave it blipping away for about an hour and 15 minutes until the flavours develop into a wonderfully rich tomatoey sauce. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch. Just as the sauce is nearly ready, Add the parmesan and season to taste. Meanwhile add salt to a pan of boiling water and cook the spaghetti according the the packet instructions. Once the spaghetti is ready, drain it in a colander and add it to the pan with the sauce. Give it all a good stir, coating the pasta in the lovely tomato sauce. Serve with a little grated parmesan and use the extra basil leaves to make a great little garnish. This is expensive and not what I have planned – I shall be using the slow cooker because it brings out the best in the mince. Mince is usually not taken from the best cuts of meat and benefits from a slow cook. We actually had chicken and beef burgers tonight, not home made due to the horror that is shoe and glasses shopping. I love Robin with all my heart and probably, a bit of a few other peoples. But, I cannot abide glasses shopping with him, every year the ‘requirements’ for what a pair of glasses has to do changes and that means everything that has gone before is out of the window. This year, he has got it into his head that if he wears the ‘wrong style’ of glasses people shout at him more. He rarely, if ever, gets shouted at by anyone, he’s good at this job and sets realistic expectations for the company and the users. I have no bloody idea where he’s got this from – his current glasses look nothing like the ones he says will make people more antagonistic so he has no empirical evidence to back up his claim. Sometimes I despair of him. I thought we’d dropped lucky with one of those companies that send you the frames to try on but even that has turned problematic. The Cub however was a dream, it was such a shame there were no actual shoes in his size!

A picture of burgers:

Old Picture of The Cub

New Picture

Peace, love and pizza!

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Day 11, in which we might cheat a little bit

because I’ve posted before with this recipe and I’m busy so I’ll cut and paste some of it:

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks – the recipe says a green pepper but as green peppers are nasty un-ripened peppers I don’t use them.
  • 1 x 227g tin of pineapple chunks sliced and juice retained. I use stripey (what we call whatever value range the supermarket is selling because Tesco’s use to be stripey) tins of pineapple.
  • 1 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp clear rice vinegar or cider vinegar. It’s pretty much always cider vinegar because I love salad dressings with cider vinegar or if I’m feeling sassy mirin.
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar optional
  • 1 tsp cornflour blended with 1 tbsp cold water

The recipe gives a really complicated way of making the sauce here’s what I do:

Stir fry the peppers and ginger in the pan for a couple of minutes. Add everything else except the sugar. Boil the crap out of it for a few minutes. CAREFULLY taste – this is going to be hotter than McDonald’s coffee use to be, so let it cool and then cool some more. Add the sugar if you need to and adjust the seasoning to your taste. Thicken with the cornflour/water mixture if required.

Stir fry your meat and or vegies, we would be having chicken, chinese leaves, pak choi and any veg I can find in the bottom of the fridge – I’m lucky we have a REALLY good veg stall on our local market who stock exotic things like mooli and pak choi. If I can convince them I’ll get them to pose for a picture one day! – and steamed rice. However, as the lurgy got me yesterday we’re just having chicken and extra peppers in the sauce! Because of the lurgy tonight I’ve added extra ginger. For the 3 of us I use 1 1/4 cups of rice and 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Simmer the rice for 5 minutes then turn off for 15 minutes with the lid on. DO NOT LIFT THE LID before the time is up. Drain any excess liquid, fluff and serve.

We’re shoe shopping for The Cub tomorrow – the horror!

Today consists of the library and food shopping. As I didn’t post next weeks menu planner yesterday when I should have, here it is:

Spag Bol
Fish fingers
Fettuccine with melting Brie, Cherry tomatoes and Basil
Pie
Paprika Pork
Pan Haggerty
Chicken Chasseur

I look forward NOT AT ALL to trying to get The Cub to eat pie, he views it as poison. I might try separating filling from pastry and see how that goes.

Here’s the shopping list for the recipes – although I think recipe is a bit strong for fish fingers:

Enough mince for your family, for us that’s about 3/4lb or 340g
Garlic
2  x Tinned tomatoes – I like the chopped ones
Passata
Fish Fingers
Good chipping potatoes or decent oven bake chips – your choice 😀
Fettuccine
100g Brie or soft cheese – your choice, the recipe says use 300g but this serves 4 and it’s to much for us
extra virgin olive oil
cherry tomatoes – recipe calls for 300g but I find that 100g works for us, that is 1 of my hands full – your hands may be bigger or smaller and your family may love cherry tomatoes, do what works for you 😀
Fresh Basil – have some left over from last week because I bought the sort that grows
Lemon
Vegetable oil
250g streaky bacon (I’ve got some back bacon so I’ll be using that)
The recipe calls for 6 medium potatoes – what does that fucking mean? Sorry, but it makes me SO cross! Apparently, according to our friend Google, a medium potato weighs about 60g so that’s about 360g of potato.
6 onions – I get to play with my mandolin, let’s hope this time I don’t try to slice of my finger. I’ll be using red onions.
9 carrots, use your common sense, if you’re buying chantenay carrots get loads. If they are massive comedy carrots use less.
Chicken stock 1l
150g grated cheddar
Chicken thighs – enough for your family
Fresh thyme sprigs – we have some growing on our front AtAt station
Olive oil
100g Shallots – if there aren’t any on the market today I shall be using red onions
Tomato puree
Dry white wine
500g mushrooms whichever ones you like, I shall be going with what is available on the market – sometimes they have mixed shrooms, yum!
Bay leaves
Flatleaf parsley
1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry, because life is to short to make it yourself.
10g dried mushrooms – use porcini if you can, Aldi do some really good dried mushrooms when it’s Chinese week, I usually stock up and use those.
1/2 kg braising steak
caster sugar
plain flour
150ml dark ale
beef stock cubes
100g smoked bacon lardons – Aldi do really good little packs and you can freeze half
Eggs
400g pork chunks – recipe calls for pork fillet but I’ll be using the cheapest cut because I’ll be using the slow cooker 😀
100 ml crème fraîche – I’ll use yoghurt if it’s to expensive or sour cream, as I have some in the fridge.
Paprika – I’ll be using sweet because the boys don’t like spicy

Of course, you will need to provide accompaniments so this is not an exhaustive shopping list but it is a list of all the ingredients you’ll need for this weeks planner, cook along with me 😀 I have been thinking, and yes, actually it hurt a lot. I’m going to post the recipe on how to do it properly the day before I post what I did and what it looked like. Then, if you’d like to you can follow the recipe yourself and let me know what you did on my blog iyswim 😀

Here’s an old picture of sweet and sour because it was basically identical and the cable for my phone has disappeared, I shall probably find it in the lego box.

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Old Cub Picture

various 047

New Cub Picture

Love, peace and pizza!

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Day 10, in which we catch up with ourselves

Today we are back on track and are actually having what the meal planner says we should be having – yay!

One day I PROMISE I’m going to make my own hummus – today is not that day! I want to use this recipe from Nigella:

  • 800 grams chickpeas (2 cans)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled)
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (or more as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (or 1 teaspoon pouring salt)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 5 tablespoons greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (to serve)
  • pitta breads (or bread sticks, tortillas or crackers to serve)

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put the garlic clove, chickpeas, 3 tablespoons oil, peanut butter, lemon juice, salt and cumin into a food processor and blitz to a knobbly purée.
Add 4 tablespoons of the Greek yogurt and process again; if the hummus is still very thick add another 1–2 tablespoons yogurt and the same of oil. (This will often depend on the chickpeas, as different sorts make the hummus thicker or not.)
Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice and salt if you feel it needs it.
On serving, mix the chopped peanuts with the paprika and sprinkle on top if you wish, and put an array of bits and pieces to eat with or dip in, as you see fit.
Additional information – for gluten free serve with something appropriate, such as crudites.

We are lucky in that, right now, we don’t have any food allergies so can do this – swap the peanut butter out for tahini if you can, but watch the amounts because imnsho, it makes things a bit claggy with mouth feel. Tahini, is basically peanut butter made with sesame seeds, if you have a fav hummus recipe (and no allergies) try swapping out peanut butter for your tahini. It’s MUCH cheaper to!

Tons of crudites, pita bread. I was a bit gutted that Aldi didn’t have any of their vac packed tappas things today – naughty Aldi! I do like their hummus though.

No picture today because it’s bloody hummus and everyone knows what that looks like – but I promise one for tomorrow!

Old Cub:

various 031

New Cub:

Love, peace and pizza!