Tomato Jam–Simple as (Tomato) Pie!

Tomato Jam

Yield: 2 pints (4 cups)

Please forgive me for ignoring my precious blog and all of you.  You’ve been on my mind…

As the year anniversary of my husband’s death approached (July 30), I found myself struggling a bit emotionally.  It didn’t help that, right about the 11-month mark, I began to feel a deep longing for a romantic connection, a concept that had been repulsive up until that point.

There were signs–if you believe in that kind of thing–that it was time to move on in my romantic life [I literally found heart shaped items on the ground in front of me (jewelry, a red felt pouch, etc.)] and, at the suggestion of a friend, joined Match.com.  That could be the subject for many posts, though probably not on a recipe blog.  But, suffice it to say, I have been more than a little distracted for a month, though a vacation last week provided some much-need perspective.

So, instead of a treatice on my looking-for-love life, I offer my tomato jam.

Of late, all of my gardening friends are sharing what appears to be their bumper crops of tomatoes this year: golden pear, cherry, big boys, heirlooms, and more.

Finding myself disappearing under the bounty, but not wanting the fruits of their labors to spoil and go to waste, I wanted to make a batch of something that would use a lot of the tomatoes, produce a manageable quantity–perhaps that I could give as gifts–and not require a lot of my limited time.  So, salsa was out.  I love it, but way too much chopping.  And I rarely eat pasta, so tomato sauce wasn’t the answer either.

Since my husband passed away (and since I joined Match!) I’ve lost 12 pounds and my appetite has gone on holiday.  So I find myself mostly snacking these days–healthy snacking–and love pretty little bites of contrasting tastes and textures.  You know, layers and dollops of this and that.  In the mix there has to be something that packs a little punch, like squirting mustard on a (vegan) hot dog.  So, the idea of a tomato jam occured to me, different than a catsup or a chutney.

I simply tossed tomatoes, onion, and garlic in the food processor and then transferred that mixture to a saucepan with sugar, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and smoky paprika (for an extra layer of flavor), simmered it for about a half hour, and added about a tablespoon of fresh basil for a hint of freshness at the very end.  A little bit sweet, it is outstanding served with something a little salty and tangy like a Treeline or Heidi Ho brand vegan cheese on a crunchy cracker or crispbread of some type.

Normally, I wouldn’t post a photo of a recipe in which I hadn’t cleaned the rim of the serving vessel, but I had forgotten to photograph it at home, traveled yesterday evening to another town for a picnic with it, and realized I needed to snap a quick shot just as we were about to dine, so this is the best I could do.

I didn’t properly “can” it using a water bath–no time for that–instead, I simply put it in a clean jar, wrapped a strip of salvaged wrapping paper around it to hide the label–not time to remove it–and tied it with a bit of twine for a cute, casual gift presentation.

Enjoy one of the tastiest gifts of summer!

4 pints (8 cups) tomatoes of any color, including mixed (grape, cherry, larger tomatoes cut into chunks–whatever you have!)

1 small white or yellow onion, quartered

4 large cloves garlic, halved

1/2 cup natural sugar (I like demerera)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used a chianti variety)

1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or try another spice like curry powder)

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh basil chiffonade (leaves stacked, rolled, and very thinly sliced)

Place tomatoes, onion, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until pulpy, but textured.  Transfer to a saucepan and stir in sugar, vinegar, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Simmer on medium-high for about 30 minutes, stirring more frequently toward the end to prevent sticking or scorching, until almost all moisture has been evaporated.  It will cook way down to about half the volume.  Remove from heat, stir in basil, and store, refrigerated, in jars or cartons.  Perfect for gift-giving.

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Vegan Sausage with Curried Peach and Kale Quick Compote

Sausage with Peach and Kale Quick CompoteYield: 4 servings

Despite the fall colors in my photo and the sausage–which I often associate with cool weather–this recipe capitalizes on one of summer’s biggest boasts: peaches!

Starving after a 2 mile walk with Minnie and an hour long Pilates-Barre class (with the formidable, but lovely, Darlene Stephens at Music in Motion hear in Coastal Virginia), I wanted a quick, healty, pretty and satisfying lunch.  I don’t want much, do I?

Remembering that I had sausages in the fridge that needed used and hankering for peaches after having some of the best last week while visiting my family in Mississippi, I nipped into the grocery store, still clad in exercise attire, to pick up some baby kale and peaches, and dashed home to whip together this easy, flavorful lunch.

Recipe Note: Some vegan sausages taste like sawdust in a tube so find a good one.  I tend to like a flavored one, say Field Roast’s apple-sage.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 vegan sausages (try one like Field Roast apple-sage)

1 medium yellow onion, sliced or diced

Sea salt

2 peaches, cut into 1/8ths and each 1/8th cut in half

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons agave

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 cups baby kale (or chopped mature kale, tough stems removed)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons coconut milk creamer

2 teaspooons Dijon or your favorite grainy mustard

Spread an indoor grill pan or small skillet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, preheat over medium-high, and grill or griddle sausages  for about 6 to 8 minuts or 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on 4 sides.  Remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  Meanwhile, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion, a pinch of sea salt, and saute, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.  Add peaches and continue sauteeing and stirring for about 3 minutes.  Stir in red wine vinegar, agave nectar, and curry powder until completely combined.  Add kale and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until kale begins to wilt, but is still bright green.  Stir in creamer and mustard until well distributed and heated through.  Serve 1/4 of compote over each sausage sprinkled with a tiny pinch of coarse sea salt.

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A Wynn Resort-Las Vegas Redux: Vegan Ginger-Ale Pancakes with Fresh Vegan Peach-Basil-Maple-Ale Chutney

Peach pancakes

Yield: 4 servings

Las Vegas not the first place you think of when someone mentions gourmet vegan food?  Me either.

But that’s about to change thanks to the chefs at The Wynn Resort-Las Vegas teaming up with celebrity vegan chef and cookbook author, Tal Ronnen. Together, they created a vegan menu even a meat-craving–or carving–high roller would love.  (I am a longtime Ronnen fan and owner of his bestselling cookbook, The Conscious Cook.)

To help introduce their vegan menu to a broader public–so that what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas(!)–The Wynn invited vegan bloggers like me to adapt one of the dishes Ronnen created for their menu and share both the recipe and rationale.  Such an invitation gave me pause because the last thing any of his dishes need is adapted.  They all look gorgeous and sound delicious.

But, since our area of coastal Virginia has been bitten hard by the craft beer craze and since peaches grow so beautifully here in the south–never mind that ginger and basil are such a perfect pairing with peaches–I decided to combine them to create my own version of Peach Pancakes.  The Wynn’s are served with peach compote and honey butter so, mind you, mine are not an improvement on theirs; rather just a twist…or a flip, as it were.

Usually I beg off when my husband books a trip to Vegas, but the next time he decides to head out there for a UFC event, I may just have to tag along to enjoy dining at The Wynn!

Las Vegan anyone?

 

Fresh Vegan Peach-Basil-Maple-Ale Chutney

2 medium peaches, seeded and medium-finely diced (I leave the skin on for more color and nutrition)
1 cup “ale” (use your favorite craft beer or ale)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
8 large basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and very thinly sliced to make chiffonade
2 tablespoon demerara sugar (or substitute an additional tablespoon of maple syrup)
4 tablespoons maple syrup

Stir together all ingredients in a small or medium saucepan and simmer over medium-high, uncovered, while you make the pancakes or until the juice has reduced and chutney has thickened.

Vegan Ginger-Ale Pancakes

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup self-rising flour
2 tablespoons natural or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or to taste (or about 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup “ale” (the remainder of the 12 ounce bottle used in the chutney, above)
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (plain or vanilla, lite or regular, would also be good)
Vegan butter and/or vegetable oil for frying
Fresh Vegan Peach-Basil-Maple-Ale Chutney
Sprigs of fresh basil

Preheat oven to warm. In a medium mixing bowl, place first 6 dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour in beer and soymilk. Whisk together until well combined. In a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the vegan butter, oil or a combination. (I like a combination: the oil reduces chances of burning while the butter contributes flavor.) Using a scant 1/4 cup measure, make pancakes, two at a time. Cook two-three minutes on the first side until you get a nice rise, a few bubbles appear, and the edges appear set. Gently flip and cook another couple of minutes on the reverse. Add butter and/or oil to keep skillet greased as needed. If pancakes are cooking too quickly, lower heat to medium, especially for second side. When cooked through, remove pancakes to plates or a serving platter, keep warm, and repeat with remaining butter or oil and pancake batter. Serve each short stack with Fresh Vegan Peach-Basil-Maple-Ale Chutney spooned over the top and a sprig of fresh basil.

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Vegan Fresh Fennel and Cranberry Chutney

Fresh Fennel and Cranberry RelishToday, I woke up and suddenly realized that–having been preocupied for the last week–I had a little leftover fresh produce in the fridge, but I’m headed out of town for a week, and it would spoil before I returned.

Invited to a Christmas luncheon at noon, I decided to whip together a couple of things to give as gifts to the other guests.  Fortunately, I had a set of 4 ounce canning jars that were perfect filled with the chutney, tucked into small gift bags with an additional jar of Vegan Corn Maque-Choux, a little tissue, and simple little bird ornaments that I also whipped together using recycled Kleenex boxes with beautiful patterns.

It was a busy morning, as I still got to yoga at 9:30 (well, 9:40!), and to the lovely luncheon at the home of close friend, Trish Pfeifer!  (Stay tuned for some of her delcious recipes!)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 cups diced fresh fennel (1 bulb + a little bit of the stalks)

Sea Salt

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)

In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion, fennel, and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 mintues or until softened.  Add garlic and saute, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Add cranberriesa and sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Add water and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until most of moisture is evaporated, or about 10 minutes, lowering heat if necessary.  Stir in wine, and let simmer, still stirring frequently, for anoter 10 minutes or until thick and pulpy.  Adjust salt, sugar or vinegar if desired.  Remove from heat, let cool, place into an airtight containers(s), and tie with ribbon and a star anise, if desired.

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Vegan Fresh Ginger, Anise, Golden Tomato, and Red Bell Pepper Jam

Fresh Ginger, Anise, Golden Tomato, and Red Bell Pepper JamYield: approximately 1 1/2 cups

 

This savory jam shimmers like jewels. Enjoy it alone or with vegan cheese spread or cream cheese on toasted bread as a simple but striking crostini, inside a wrap for a burst of flavor, or dabbed atop all manner of cooked vegetables or proteins.  It is most beautiful, though, served in a glass dish where it can really sparkle.

 

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, slivered

1/2 of a large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 pint golden grape or pear tomatoes

1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon anise seed

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

 

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper, and saute, stirring, for approximately 3 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and break down, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, another 5 or so minutes until tomatoes break down further, and most of moisture has cooked off, creating a thick, pulpy, very textured, and beautifully colored jam.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Reduce heat at any point if cooking too fast.

Fresh Ginger, Anise, Golden Tomato, and Red Bell Pepper Jam with Star Anise 2

 

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Vegan Potato Salad with Cilantro-Mint-Chili Mayo and Carrot-Cashew Topping

Potato Salad with Cilantro-Mint Mayo and Carrot-Cashew Topping 1This recipe is a two-fer: my delicious Cilantro-Mint-Chili Pesto is tasty enough to eat with a spoon, never mind the potato salad!  Use this versatile pesto, which can be nudged in a more Indian or Thai direction, in noodle dishes, rice dishes, soups, sandwiches, appetizers like crostini, and more.

Make it first so that you have it on hand to quickly stir into my potato salad whose topping puts it right over the top!  I pulse together carrots and cashews in a food processor, seasoning them only with a pinch of black salt for that inimitable, slightly sulfur-y “boiled egg” flavor, so perfect for potato salad.

 

Cilantro-Mint-Chili Pesto

Yield: approximately 3/4 to 1 cup

 

4 ounces cilantro leaves and tender stems, rinsed and dried

1 ounce mint leaves and tender stems, rinsed and dried

1 serrano chili, seeded

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

Juice of 1/2 of a large lime

2-3 tablespoons natural sugar or agave nectar

1/4 cup olive oil

Pinch sea salt to taste

Place cilantro, mint, chile, and coconut in a food process and pulse to finely chop (this took about 30-35 pulses in my processor).  Add lime juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar or agave nectar, and pulse to fully incorporate.  Taste and add another tablespoon of sugar or agave nectar, if desired.  With motor running, stream in olive oil.  Season with a pinch of salt.  Adjust seasoning if desired and store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

 

Potato Salad with Cilantro-Mint-Chili Mayo with Carrot-Cashew Topping

Yield: 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (or whatever kind you have on hand, even sweet potatoes), cubed (I leave the skin on for nutrition and color contrast)

5 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

2 to 3 tablespoons Cilantro-Mint-Chili Pesto

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup raw, peeled carrot, cut into 1 inch chunks

1/4 cup lightly salted and roasted cashews (halves and pieces are fine)

Pinch black salt or to taste

Garnish: Additional pesto and cashews

Simmer potatoes in salted boiling water over medium-high heat, loosely covered, until tender, approximately 10 minutes.  Rinse under cold water and drain. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, pesto, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add potatoes and fold together with mayo-pesto mixture until well-combined.  Taste and correct seasoning as desired.   In a food processor, pulse together carrots, cashews, and black salt until finely chopped (not mashed).  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve potato salad topped with Carrot-Curry mixture and garnish each serving with a dollop of the pesto and a cashew.

 

 

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On the First Day of Christmas…Vegan Kale, Toasted Hazelnut and Orange Pesto Topped with Savory Dried Cherry and Walnut Chutney and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Merry Christmas a day early everyone! 

This recipe is a three-fer and may require a quick nip into the grocery store, so I wanted you to have a time to procure the ingredients before Christmas arrives because this little nosh packs big flavor and is exactly how my family prefers to eat on Christmas Day.  Or you might even want to serve it tonight for Christmas Eve with your favorite beverage or imbibement.

Back in the day, my family loved a big feast.  Now we nosh.  But, regardless, this tri-level treat will be lovely alongside whatever else you serve.

My special Toasted Pumpkin Seeds don’t absolutely have to go on top, but I love nuts and seeds, so if a (wal)nut plus a (hazel) nut is good, a nut plus a seed is even better.  Therefore, you can just put out a bowl of the seeds for nibbling, then stand back and watch them disappear.

Along those lines, any one of the three parts of this stacked appetizer has a multitude of uses, so let your imagination and the rest of your menu be your guide.

May you have exactly the kind of holiday you need!

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On the 8th Day of Christmas…Vegan Crostini with “Cream Cheese” and Caramelized Onion-Cranberry Chutney

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter years of a big Christmas feast, Katrina uprooted my family in MS for about a year and, that Christmas, living in a charming house “downtown” instead of in the ‘burbs, I suggested that the new setting called for a new tradition.

Increasingly unenthused about jumping up from opening gifts to hit the kitchen for hours of food preparation–even though I am a passionate cook–I suggested that maybe a special soup or two and some crusty breads was all we needed.  My family, who has always enjoyed noshing, wholeheartedly endorsed my idea and we’ve scarcely looked back, though occasionally we’ve gone a bit more traditional for nostalgic reasons.

So, this tasty pairing would be lovely alongside soup, salad or cocktails; as a stand-alone on your Christmas buffet; or atop a bagel for Christmas brunch.  But, if your menu is developing toward a more traditional sit-down affair, the chutney could be spooned into a bowl and served as an accompaniment.

It’s just too pretty and flavorful not to be invited to the party!

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Inaugural Blooming Platter “Vegan Q & A Tuesday” with Bryanna Clark Grogan + Bryanna’s Indian-Spiced Lentil Salad

Based on Actor’s Studio host’s James Lipton’s famous “Q & A”–after the Proust Questionnaire–“Vegan Q & A Tuesday” is The Blooming Platter’s new first Tuesday feature on a creative force in the vegan culinary world.  Read more about “Q & A Tuesday” HERE.

Bryanna cropFeatured Force: 

Bryanna Clark Grogan

(See below for Bryanna’s Indian-Spiced Lentil Salad recipe.)

Vegan since 1988, author World Vegan Feast & 7 more vegan cookbooks, Bryanna has devoted over 40 years to the study of cooking & nutrition.  She developed the recipes for Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, & contributed recipes to Howard Lyman’s No More Bull!Cooking with PETA. She has appeared at Vegetarian SummerFest, Vegetarian Awakening, Portland VegFest, McDougall Celebrity Chef Weekend, VidaVeganCon, & Seattle VegFest. She also runs a small library branch and likes to bellydance & read mysteries. She lives on Denman Is., Bc, Canada, with her photographer/baker husband Brian, dog Phoebe, & cats Ringo & Sadie. She has 4 grown kids, 2 stepsons and 7 grandchildren.

 1.  What is your favorite culinary word?

It would have to be “Umami”– the Japanese word for “The Fifth Flavor”, which means, more or less, “the essence of deliciousness”.  Isn’t that wonderful?

2.  What is your least favorite culinary word?

“Superfood”—there are no “superfoods”!  It’s a marketing ploy. 

3.  What about cooking turns you on?

I think part of it is the creativity and inventiveness, which often leads to a wonderful dish or meal. Sometimes I wake up thinking about some idea for a dish that I want to make. One can compare it to painting, but we cooks can enjoy eating our creations!  There is also the mystery—how will it turn out?  Will it live up to expectations?  And, in addition, there is the pleasure of discovery—learning the science of cooking, how ingredients work together, what methods improve the result, etc.

4.  What about cooking turns you off?

Hmmmm… that’s a tough one.  The clean-up, perhaps?

5.  What cooking or dining sound or noise do you love?

There are many. The “snap” of breaking celery or snap peas; the sizzle of breaded marinated tofu sliding into hot olive oil; knife on wooden cutting board as one chops onions, etc.; the “glug” of wine being poured into a sauce; the quiet clinking of dining utensils during a lull in the dinner conversation, when guests are enjoying their food so much that they cease to converse.

6.  What cooking or dining sound or noise do you hate?

Slurping!

7.  What makes you curse in the kitchen?

Cutting myself; spilling something messy, such as oil or tomato sauce; finding out I turned on the wrong burner; burning something.

8.  What cooking profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Rather than being a cookbook writer, from the limited amount of teaching workshops I’ve done, it might be very satisfying to be a cooking teacher.

9.  What cooking profession would you not like to do?

I would not like to do anything that entailed making the same thing, or few things, over and over.

10.  If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“One of the perks here is that you can have anything you like to eat, you won’t get fat, and you can have full access to the Heavenly Kitchens, if you like.”

Bryanna’s Indian-Spiced Lentil Salad

 Indian lentil saladServes 6

 5 1/2 to 6 cups cooked or canned brown lentils, drained (or 2 cups dried)

4 small carrots, peeled and grated

6 large green onions, chopped

3 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 medium cucumber, diced (I use the English type that you don’t have to peel)

DRESSING:

1 cup Mango Salsa (see homemade recipe and notes below recipe)

3/4 cup Low-Fat Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings or broth from cooking chickpeas

6 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon dried mint leaves (or 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped)

1 tablespoon dried cilantro leaves (or 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped)

2 teaspoons tandoor masala

1 teaspoon salt

 If you are starting with dried lentils (which do not need pre-soaking):

Pick over the lentils to remove debris or shriveled lentils, rinse, and drain. Cover with water or broth and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (to aid in digestion). Reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, until tender. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour.  They should be tender, but firm, so do not overcook them or let them get mushy.  Drain them well (handling gently) and cool completely, then measure out.

To make the salad:

Combine the first 6 ingredients carefully in a salad bowl.

Whisk the Dressing ingredients together well, or mix them briefly in a blender or with a hand immersion/stick blender.

Fold the Dressing into the salad. Cover and refrigerate. Try to bring the salad to room temperature before serving.

To serve, I pile it on top of some organic greens and garnish each serving with sliced fresh mango and avocado.

Nutrition (per serving): 397.3 calories; 32% calories from fat; 14.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 625.7mg sodium; 1194.7mg potassium; 53.1g carbohydrates; 17.8g fiber; 12.3g sugar; 35.4g net carbs; 18.6g protein; 8.4 points.

 

EASY MANGO (OR PEACH)-TOMATO SALSA

3 cups diced fully ripened tomatoes, roughly pureed in a food processor or with a hand immersion/stick blender

2 cups diced fresh mango (or use ripe peaches instead)

1/4 sliced green onions

1 tbs minced jalapeno pepper, seeds removed (optional)

2 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger or one tsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbs. lime juice

Mix ingredients together well and refrigerate until using in a covered container.

 

Commercial Mango or Peach and Tomato Salsas:

D.L. Jardine’s Peach Salsa

PC [President’s Choice, a Canadian brand] Mango and Lime Salsa

Pearson Farm Georgia-Style Peach Salsa

Victoria Fruit Salsa

 

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