Coconut Crusted Chocolate Covered Lychee


CoconutChocolateLychee

UPC’s Coconut Chocolate Lychee

I was given this idea by Hari Qhuang, of Hari’s Got Tales!” in a comment he posted on my blog not too long ago. I was so excited by the idea that I asked him how it was done. He responded that he didn’t really know, and gave me “creative license” to go and try my own version of it. Well, this is what happens when you give UPC some Creative License! Let that be a lesson to all you who are considering asking me to come up with a way to make this or that!

CoconutChocolateLychee-Background

CoconutChocolateLychee-LycheesCoconut Chocolate Lychee; What you’ll need:

  • 10-15 Lychee Fruits, peeled, halved and pitted (bonus points if you can get the pit out without cutting the Lychee in half!)
  • 4 oz Dark Chocolate (Only the best! I used Organic Nectars 70% Dark)
  • 1 cup Shredded Coconut (Organic please!)

Serves: Umm… 1? 2? 5? It depends on whether you let other people taste it before you do!
Cook and Prep Time: 120 minutes, at least.

1. Peel, half, and pit the Lychees. Put these on a plate to dry for an hour.
Note: If you have the patience: put them in a dehydrator for the hour, or in the oven at 150 or so for the hour. If you can’t do that, it’s ok. I just let them sit, and the recipe works fine if they can air-dry for an hour.

2. Put a thick bed of shredded coconut on a large plate.

3. Heat up the chocolate bar in a pot and let it cool for 5-10 minutes until the chocolate is thick, like molasses.

CoconutChocolateLychee-ChocolateAndCoconutChocolate4. Drop the now-dried (or air-dried) lychee halves in the chocolate and roll the chocolate around to cover them with a thick coat of chocolate.

5. Rest the lychee halves on the shredded coconut carefully.
Note: I used chopsticks to pull the chocolate-covered lychee halves out of the chocolate; tongs likely will work well too.

6. Cover the chocolate covered lychee halves with a copious amount of shredded coconut, pushing the coconut up around the outside of the lychee. You should have little mounds of shredded coconut on your plate, with the chocolate covered lychee  in the middle.

7. Cover the plate (lightly!) with tin-foil or wax paper, and put it in the fridge to let the coconut-chocolate-lychees cool and harden.

8. After about an hour, take them out and “break up” the shredded coconut mounds, and brush off the extra coconut from the chocolate covered lychee halves. There will be quite a bit of leftover shredded coconut (for you to munch on, of course!).

9. (Optional) Use the leftover chocolate as a “garnish” on the chocolate covered lychee halves.

Now serve, and enjoy!!

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What’s For Lunch? Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad


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UPC’s Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad

This was a looong weekend! There are “Long Weekends” where you have an extra day due to a holiday, or perhaps a carefully chosen vacation day. And then there are looong weekends, like this one was for me, where you are still unpacking, setting up your new apartment, and throwing away old stuff that you haven’t used in the past 5 years. This weekend, since my wife and I moved recently, was the second version. And I’m not sure how many more of these I have in me before I have a breakdown!

On the positive side: we have the kitchen (the most important room in the house!), living/dining room, bedroom, and my closet all set up with well conceived temporarily situated solutions to our needs from the space available in the room. We know how we’ll eventually have the rooms look, what we need to make the space work, and we’ve put together some sort of interim solution, using the furniture and other tools we have available now. That’s an important start! All we have left now are the office, my wife’s closet, and the bathrooms. And I am exhausted from the effort to get us this far this fast! I am so exhausted that I barely managed to put together today’s post. Barely; but still managed. You can thank me after you see what’s in it.

Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak (I used my lately-favorite cut: Rib-Eye)
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup Blueberries (wild if possible, otherwise organic)
  • 1 cup Toasted Coconut Chips
  • 1 medium Cucumber, chopped
  • Mesclun Salad (or your other favorite salad mix)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2, with a little to spare
Cook and prep time: 20 minutes

1. Cook the steak in a pan with your favorite steak seasoning (I used sea salt, fresh ground pepper, anise seed, and thyme) on medium heat, covered. Continue cooking until it is finished to your liking (shorter times for rare, longer times for well-done).
Note: I like my steak on the rare-side when eating it by itself. For some reason, I prefer it well-done in a salad.

2. While the steak is cooking, prepare the salad. In a large mixing bowl, add the salad greens, cucumber, blueberries, avocado, and olive oil. Using a serving spoon, mix the salad thoroughly.

3. When the steak is cooked to your satisfaction, take it out and slice it, no more than 1/2 inch thick slices, on a cutting board.

4. Serve the salad in a salad bowl after sprinkling the coconut chips and the sliced tomatoes liberally across the top of the salad. Carefully lay the sliced steak on the side of the bowl, like shown in my picture.

Questions:

  • How did you spend your weekend?
  • What kinds of things do you prefer to spend your weekend on? Socializing? Traveling?
  • What’s your “ideal” weekend look like, given your normal constraints?
  • How often do you manage to do your “ideal” weekend? Is it a once-per-month thing? Or more or less frequently than that?

What’s For Breakfast? Sweet Potato Eggs


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As a quick reminder: I was published last week!!! The recipe book that I was published in is a compilation of many of the best of Paleo’s chef-bloggers, and I am honored to be counted as one of their members! I’ve been through the recipes in the book, and likely will feature some of them here on this blog. As for my recipes in the book, they are some of my finest work, all entirely UPC home creations, and will be the same simple delightful foods that you all have come to expect from me! I highly recommend picking up a copy, as soon as possible, and working your way through this book. As I said above, it is filled, front to back, with some of the best work of the best chef-bloggers the Paleo world has to offer, and it’s just too good a book to miss out on!
Pick up your copy here.

I’ll be running a reminder of the Fat-Burning Chef recipe book all week, and then I’ll move on from it. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but for those of you who already have it, I will continue on with my regularly scheduled program.I was able to run to the ferry again this morning. The summer heat has held off, strangely, in favor of one of the wettest Junes on record, already the 6th wettest in NJ. And it’s the 17th. Is it possible that another rainstorm will push this year over the edge, and close the gap between being 6th and being 1st? Yes it is. Probable, maybe not – there’s a reason the top years have held their spots, though the record is held by 2003 right now, which isn’t that long ago… Perhaps we’ll see a new record this year after all! And if that means I can keep running to the ferry, then I’ll be just fine with that!

Sweet Potato Eggs, What you’ll need:

  • 1 large Sweet Potato, diced (Organic, of course)
  • 1 inch Ginger, diced
  • 3-4 Crimini Mushrooms, diced
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 4 Eggs
  • Arugula for the salad bedding

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 25 minutes

Add the sweet potato and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a pan on high. You’ll want to dice the sweet potato as finely as you can stand before adding it to the pan. The finer you dice it, the better the flavor and texture of the eggs will be. This recipe will work with large chunks of sweet potato, but it will end up eating more like home-fries than an omelet or scrambled eggs. As soon as the pan is sizzling, turn the heat down to medium-low, or about 3 out of 10. We want to cook the potato, but not to burn it.

While the potato is cooking, start dicing the ginger and mushrooms. These can be added to the pan as they’re finished, and in no particular order. As with the mushrooms, get these as small as your patience permits, but there is no need to be concerned with getting them microscopic. Just well diced is going to be fine – smaller pieces are more easily bound by the eggs, so whether you’re making omelets or scrambled, they will taste the best if you manage to get them cut down to fairly well diced pieces.

Add the second tablespoon of coconut oil after the ingredients are all in the pan, and stir the potato regularly, especially as you add the mushroom and ginger to the pan. As the potato starts to show the signs of being cooked, go ahead and add the eggs right on top of the potatoes, ginger, and mushrooms. As I have mentioned plenty of times before, I prefer to crack the eggs directly in to the pan when I’m making scrambled eggs. I’ve never really narrowed down why I like to do it that way, but that’s my preference. What that means is that I often spend the first 30-60 seconds of cooking spicing my eggs with the salt and pepper that I will be adding.

I turn the heat up to high after spicing the eggs, so that the pan is heating up while I’m mixing the eggs and filling together. And the rest is just scrambled eggs. You all know how to do this, right? Not quite… Here’s one final trick that I use when making scrambled eggs. Just as the eggs start to “take their shape,” I add the final tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan. You don’t want to do this too early, or the oil will just be absorbed and used up by the eggs. This is perfect to be done near the end of the cooking process, when the eggs are mostly done, and you’re still waiting for the perfect coloring. I like my eggs well-done, so I like them lightly browned on the outside. And this last little bit of coconut oil is as much for taste and texture as it is for the cooking. It makes the final product delicious!

Questions:

  • Do you prefer your flavored (like those above, with ingredients added) eggs scrambled, or as an omelet? It’s obvious what my answer is… My wife prefers her eggs as an omelet. Oh, and “Frittata” is not an acceptable answer here! That’s a separate dish entirely.
  • Which ingredients are your favorite additives?
  • Do you prefer to cook your eggs in bacon fat, butter, coconut oil, or olive oil? And why?

What’s For Dinner? Stir-Fry


Stir Fried Veggies

I was walking to work this morning and it’s raining lightly. I don’t own an umbrella, and wouldn’t use it if I did. So it has always amused me when the barest hint of rain causes everyone on the streets to clutter up the sidewalk with their umbrellas. Often what ends up happening during rush-hour is that there are so many umbrellas that they bounce off each other, causing the intended protection to the owner to be repeatedly compromised by the umbrellas of everyone else.

This morning as I was walking I saw an example of that which I just have to share. Walking down the sidewalk a few steps ahead of me was a girl carrying an umbrella which was so enormous it took up the entire sidewalk in both directions. The umbrella was easily as wide as this girl was tall, and there was no possible way anyone could walk by her in either direction without disturbing the umbrella, and usually simply knocking it over. It must have been so heavy…
As I was walking, I noticed a potential situation which, if the girl hadn’t been playing with her cellphone with her other hand, she likely would have noticed as well. The rain was light, but the rooftops always capture quite a bit, and occasionally the drainage is overhead for whatever reason. Ahead of us was one of those overhead drainage spots, where the water was coming down hard. And approaching from the other side was someone moving at a similar speed, so that they would arrive at the overhead drainage at the same time as the girl with the enormous umbrella. Of course, you know where this is headed…
They arrived at the same time, the person from the other side pushed the umbrella out of the way, and the girl with the huge umbrella was soaked by the overhead drainage. And by soaked, I mean that she’ll be needing to head back home and change. The thing is, the overhead drainage was narrow. I had no trouble avoiding it entirely, as was true for the person coming in the other direction. And if this girl hadn’t had a too-big-to-fail umbrella, my guess is that she wouldn’t have been playing with her cellphone, and would have seen it and avoided it. Instead, she was drenched. And from my perspective, it is due entirely to her own negligence.
Is there a lesson here? You be the judge. I’ll bring it up in the Questions at the end.

Stir Fry; What you’ll need:

  • Stir-Fry Veggies!
  • Carrots, long-cut
  • Zucchini, long-cut
  • Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • Olives, broken in half (not sliced; they’re prettier when they’re broken)
  • Sweet Potato, long-cut
  • And many, many more!
  • Coconut Oil for frying

Obviously, there are a million differen vegetable varieties which will work! I’ve been on a huge stir-fry kick recently, and my wife and I have been loving it! Here are the stir-fries that we’ve made recently (you’ll notice a lot of similarities):
Saturday Lunch Stir-Fry: Carrots, Zucchini, Quartered Crimini Mushrooms, Sweet Potato. I served this with a slow-cooked grass-fed beef shank steak which I cooked in rum, and spiced with pepper and ginger (no, no salt for us).
Sunday Lunch Stir-Fry: Steak strips, Sweet Potato, Zucchini, Ginger, Green Olives (broken in half), Quartered Crimini Mushrooms. I served this with a side of Avocado.
Sunday Dinner Stir-Fry: Sweet Potato, Zucchini, Quartered Crimini Mushrooms, Ginger, Yellow Onions. I had some left-over shank steak, which I had been slow-cooking all day in bone broth, ginger, and garlic; it was amazing!!

A big spicing tip for stir-fry: When you’re adding spices, particularly larger spices like fresh ginger, fresh garlic, or fresh rosemary, you should completely cook your stir-fry before adding the spices. Right at the end, with maybe 30 seconds of cook time remaining, put the spices in, stir thoroughly, turn the heat off and cover the pan and let the spices start to absorb some of the ambient heat and water vapor to fill the meal with their flavors. If you add the spices too early in the cooking process the large pieces of food that you’re using for a stir fry will not hold on to the spices, and they’ll burn in the pan. But if you add them after taking the food out of the pan, then they’ll have too little heat, water vapor, and time to really let their flavors come out in the food. Timing with spices in a stir-fry is really important!

Questions:

  • What kind of a lesson do you think I am supposed to take away from the umbrella story?
  • How do you think the girl reacted in that story? Did she realize immediately that it was probably her fault, and curse herself under her breath as she retreated home? Or did she start yelling obscenities at full volume at the guy walking in the other direction?
  • Have you seen any similar “Learning Opportunities” recently?

What’s For Dinner? Seafood with Avocado Sauce, Olives, and Roasted Carrots


SeafoodWithAvocadoSauce

A few personal updates, just to keep you all up to date with my life. The goslings on the run to work are getting a bit older. They are adorable! And they litter the walkway that I run on with their droppings – and it’s annoying! With running in mind: I am still running to work! As I was hoping would happen, the “summer mornings” settled in and the brief period in the morning is still tolerable for a jog to the ferry. It’s been in the high 60’s and humid enough to keep my face nice and cool – which does help keep my body temperature manageable. And I didn’t feel like making lunch this morning. I know, shocking right?! My wife was shocked too! I still did breakfast, as usual, but I just wasn’t inspired to cook up anything for lunch… I don’t know why. Maybe I’m tired?

Scallops, Calamari, and Shrimp with Avocado Sauce; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of Assorted Seafood (obviously, wild-caught if possible)
  • 2 large Avocados, mashed
  • 4 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • Marjoram, Cumin, and Sea Salt to taste
  • Chopped or Baby Carrots
  • Green Olives

Start the seafood in a pan on high with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. There is a lot of water in seafood, so you don’t need much oil to really get the cooking started – and once it’s started, the water in the seafood will keep the pan moist enough on it’s own. This is especially true if you’re using frozen seafood, as I most often do. Stir this regularly, and remove from the heat about 1 minute after it starts to sizzle. This usually takes about 10 minutes on my stove.
Cooking “seafood” but not fish is quite easy, in my opinion. It doesn’t take long, so there’s no need for over-preparation. It tastes amazing when it’s cooked in coconut oil, so there’s no need for anything more elaborate than that. Ultimately, keep it as simple as possible, and spice lightly.

Once the seafood is cooking, start preparing the other ingredients. In another pan add the carrots with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Cook these on medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally. These will be ready to eat once the seafood is ready.

After getting the cooking stuff all started, turn your attention to the Avocado sauce. Cut up the avocados and put them in a mixing bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and the spices. Mush these down and stir it up until you have a semi-liquid sauce, well spiced. Make sure to taste this regularly – it takes a lot of taste testing to get the flavor just right. And besides: who would want to miss the taste testing?!
Serve the sauce on the seafood. This is probably the most important part of the meal prep! The seafood is good. But you’ve had that before, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve had it recently. But the seafood with the sauce? Now that’s something new and exciting – don’t miss it!

Questions:

  • What are your favorite sauces?
  • Do you serve them on the meal, or on the side? Why?
  • Do you know how to make the sauce? Or is this something that you would like to see recreated – and shared with you?

What’s For Dinner? Lemongrass Coconut Scallops


CoconutLemongrassScallops

Lemongrass Coconut Scallops with squeezed lime, Avocado and a Side Salad

What a crazy couple of weeks for me! I’ve been keeping you all more or less informed as my time has passed, but it occurred to me and my wife on the way home yesterday that we haven’t had a weekend in our apartment in more than a month. And what’s more: we have only had 1 weekend in our apartment over nearly 2 months! We spent 2 weekends in a row in Washington DC. We followed that by a relaxed weekend in, preparing to head to Cartagena. We then spent two weekends there in Cartagena. And the past two weekends, we have been at the family lake house in the Poconos. So, 1 weekend in 7. And we’ll likely be around this coming weekend, which will make 2 weekends in 8. That’s a lot of weekends out! We’re happy. We’re tired; but we’re happy.

Today’s dinner is all about recovery. It’s a delicious meal planned around one of my favorite seafood entrees: Scallops. I love scallops, when they’re done right. Adding to scallops some of the Caribbean cooking that I picked up down there, I slow-cooked my scallops in some coconut oil, and added that Caribbean citrus flavor with some lemongrass. What an amazing flavor!

Lemongrass Coconut Scallops; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Scallops
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Mana (or coconut butter)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 tablespoons Black Pepper, fresh ground (if possible)
  • 3 inches Lemongrass, finely sliced
  • 1 inch Ginger, finely chopped (but not quite diced)
  • 1 large Lime
  • 1 large Avocado
  • Arugula
  • 1 large Carrot, chopped

Serves: 2

Put the scallops in a pan on medium heat with the coconut oil and coconut mana. Start to heat up the scallops on that medium temperature while you slice and dice the lemongrass and ginger. Once the lemongrass and ginger are ready, add them to the pan and stir vigorously, making sure that most of the scallops have even access to the lemongrass and ginger in the pan.

If you’re using frozen scallops, I would suggest heating them in just the coconut oil and coconut mana for at least 15 minutes, covered. When I am thawing out my meals, I almost never use a microwave – I just adjust my cooking technique and timing to allow for the meat to thaw in the cooking process. I have found that cooking a steak or shrimp from frozen is actually quite effective, and because I am cooking with oil the moisture of the meat often gets “sealed” in the meat, leaving me with a very satisfyingly juicy end product. In many ways I prefer to use frozen meat now that I’m used to it. I’ve read that frozen meat and seafood are often the freshest way to get them, since they’re often frozen right in the processing facility. For seafood especially, this can mean a very big difference between excellent and merely acceptable end results.

Let the scallops cook for approximately 10 minutes per side, flipping them with tongs in between. As soon as you’re ready to flip the scallops the first time, sprinkle some black pepper on the scallop just before flipping it, so that the pepper will cook in to the scallop. Pepper the up facing side too, after flipping. Apply pepper very lightly, as you don’t want to taste the pepper, it’s there just to enhance the flavor of the coconut. And of course, prepare the avocado and the salad as you’re waiting for the scallops to cook. As a note on the above: if you’re using frozen scallops, you may want to double your cook time, cooking each side of the scallop for 20 minutes at 10 minutes per side, for a total of 40 minutes of cooking.

Questions:

  • When you’re happily exhausted, what comfort foods do you turn to?
  • When you’ve been traveling, what meals do you cook to help your body relax, settle back in at home, and recover from the traveling?

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The Fruits Of Colombia


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I promised to write a post on the fruits of Colombia, so here it is! The downside is, of course: No recipe today. But when you see what I’ve got to say about the fruits in Colombia, you’ll forget the missing recipe, and hop a flight down to Colombia to taste some new and exciting fruit!

ColombiaPapayaVariety of common fruit:

First off, there was such a variety of fruit available in Colombia, it was truly unbelievable! Walking down the isle of the grocery store was walking down the isle of my imagination – the colors, textures, sizes and shapes of the various fruit available was truly astonishing! Of course, there were the expected varieties: oranges, limes, mangoes. But there were even varieties of these that I didn’t know existed. And the ones in my pictures are just the ones available while I was taking note! I imagine that there were different mangoes in another grocer, and probably would be new varieties the next day too. There were even three different varieties of Lime on the shelves and two kinds of Papaya on the shelves.

ColombiaFruits5ColombiaFruits3Mango: Tommy Mango, Sugar Mango, Apple Mango, Kent Mango
Lime: Tahitian Lime, Key Lime, and “Common Lime”Papaya: Golden “Hawaiian” Papaya, Red Papaya
Pineapple: Red Spanish and Cayenne

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You see the varieties of Pineapple? There’s a tall display in the center of the above photograph with Golden Pineapple. On the bottom right is a red Pineapple, and a purple Pineapple. And yes, they had different labels and different prices too!

New Fruit that I tried:

Guanabana: This is the green spiney fruit at the bottom of the picture above, with a cut open one next to it. It’s tall, and the flesh looks almost like little silk sacs with the seeds suspended inside them. It is very sweet, though the texture takes some getting used to. I am really looking forward to trying this again, and will be buying some if I see it around here!
Zapote: This looks almost like a brown coconut. It has a brown, flakey skin. But when you cut it open, you’re greeted with a smell almost like a fruity brown sugar, and the color of the fruit flesh is bright pink. I ate it right out of the shell of the fruit with a spoon, leaving the shell at the end. It was very sweet, not very juicy, and certainly a delight! I think I would like to try taking the fruit out, chilling it, and eating it like ice-cream. I think the flavor and texture are just right!Tomate De Arbol: Literally translated, this is a “Tree Tomato”, and looks like one. Just as surprising as it looks on the outside, when you cut it open, it still resembles a tomato! But the similarities stop with the appearance. You eat a Tomate De Arbol by cutting it open and removing the skin, then eating the entire inside of the fruit. It is sweet, with just a hint of sour tang giving it a very exotic and exciting flavor. I saw juices made from Tomate De Arbol all over the place in Colombia, though I was too busy eating it fresh to try a juice.
Guava: I am well familiar with Guava. I’ve had it here as the occasional grocery store treat, as well as in my travels to the Caribbean. But it was fantastic to become reacquainted with it! The flavor of Guava is completely unique, and simply cannot be described – if you haven’t had it, you must!

Fruits that I will try next time:

There were just so many fruits there, I couldn’t try them all! Believe me, I wanted to, but with activities, alcohol and restaurants, and beach time, my Fruit Tasting time was slightly limited. As you can see from the list above, I did make some time for Fruit Tasting, and will continue on my next trip. And I don’t mind saving a bit of anticipation for my future travels to Colombia, and to share with you!
These are fruits that I saw and didn’t have a chance to try. They looked delicious! And I am definitely looking forward to my next trip to give these the time that they deserve!

Granadilla: This is a gourd-looking fruit with a hard green exterior. As I understand it, the inside is quite liquid, and quite delicious! You cut it open and almost drink the flesh out of the gourd-like skin of the fruit.
Cherimoya: This is an amazing looking fruit, similar in size and shape to a Guava, but with a ridged exterior. I understand that the flesh is soft, also like a ripe guava, and quite sweet.
Lulo: This fruit was everywhere, and the only reason I didn’t get around to trying it was because the street vendors, for some reason, never seemed to have it. I guess they didn’t have it because other people got to it first! It is shaped, sized, and colored like an orange. And side by side, they would be difficult to tell apart at a glance. Lulo is smoother on the outside than an orange. As I understand it, this is rarely eaten directly, and is most often made in to a drink or smoothie.
Mamoncillo: This looks like a small lime with a slightly browner tint to the skin. Unlike a lime, however, the skin on this is cracked open, more like a Lychee. I did see this at a few street vendors in passing, but didn’t see it often enough to have a chance to try some. It is definitely on my list for next time!

I expect that there are others that I simply must try! The list above is just the list of fruits that I noticed myself, while I had the time and presence of mind to take notes on. The next time I go, I will take some serious Fruit Tasting time, set aside for the sole purpose of finding and trying new and exciting fruits!

Questions:

  • What are your favorite foreign fruits?
  • Have you fallen in love with a fruit that you cannot buy locally?
  • Have you ever tasted a foreign fruit that just knocked your socks off in every way possible?

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