Monthly Archives: October 2016

Stations of the Crust

A walk through the making of a pie.

Pastry Station

The beginning  and the end of pie…the crust, the dough, the very pie-ness of pie. Contrary to all sorts of nonsense, pie dough is easy. Easy as Pie.

Three ingredients – flour, fat, liquid. Infinite variations.Change the flour, change the liquid, change the fat…The basic of basic: a 3:2:1: ration of  flour:butter :water. In Ratio (Michael Ruhlman precise by weight measurements; or in more eyeballing, not quite so scientific throw together school (mine) :  2  1/2 cups flour, 2 sticks butter, 1/4-1/2 cups water. You might also want a teaspoon of salt (not quite so necessary if you’re using salted butter) and perhaps a spoonful of sugar, but if  you don’t know if you need sugar, DON’T PANIC, don’t fret – leave it out and after you eat this pie, know more, know better for the next pie.

Add the butter to the flour, rubbing it in, letting some of the pieces remain the size of pease.Sprinkle the 1/4  water on top, stir it together until it comes together in a ball. Add a little more water if it’s still too crumbly. Don’t over-mix – you don’t want to wake up and excite the gluten. When it holds together, divide in half and make into 2 disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour, or even a full day. This waiting time lets the water molecules mix with the flour molecule and all be evenly hydrated. These 2 disks are enough for a top and bottom crust.

This is the outer gold of the pie.

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Apple Station

5-10 apples, depending on their size, how high a pie you want to make and how patient you are with peeling and coring and slicing.If you don’t like slices,you can chop the apples….but in the end you want them to fit on a fork with some crust and then fit into your mouth. Or roses….you can make roses from apples instead of slices or chunks….

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Martha Stewart Living Feb 2005 – there are YouTube videos galore about this, too.

Any apple can make an apple pie – what are you looking for in a pie? Old Farmer’s Almanac has an Apple GuideApple Guide if you don’t want to trust your own taste.You can also mix apples…really, it’s your pie.You can mix otehr fruit in, too, but then it isn’t an apple pie, it’s and apple and____pie. Apple make good company. Cranberries. Squash slices. Pears. Onions (caramelize them first). Sweet Potatoes. Regular Potatoes. Bacon. Cheddar Cheese. Etc.

Spice Station

Sugar and spice  and everything nice…

Sugar – white or brown? A little to enhance the other flavors or is it a flavor in an of itself? Maple sugar? Maple syrup will make it drippy….

Cinnamon – a little or a lot? Ginger? Nutmeg? Let your nose lead you…

Lemon juice is often added to keep the slices from browning – News alert : Cooking the apple is ALSO going to brown them, so add the sugar, add the spice and add the lemon juice if you like the taste.Or add a little of another juice. Apple juice/cider is good. Lemon juice is  very 20th century flavor in apple pie; a spoonful of lemon liquor would work, too. Grated orange peel is another option.  Caraway, dill seed or fennel seed add nice flavor. A spoonful of rosewater or orange flower water. Cinnamon and rum…lead with your nose!

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Paolo Antonio Barbieri. The Spice Shop – 1637

Rolling Station

Now the component pieces start to come together as a whole. Before you gather together the pie pan, the rolling pin, the dough and the filling, there’s another decision – Is this pie to be bakes now, or is it to be assembled and frozen to be baked later? If you want to bake the pie now – turn on the oven to 425°F. If later – get rolling!

Sprinkle a little flour on a clean flat surface. Unwrap one disk of dough. With a rolling pin

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One kind of rolling pin

 

roll one disk into a circle about 2 inches wider around then your pie pan. There are lots of rolling out videos and magazine hints. In the last few months both Christopher Kimball in his new magazine Milk Street has a new no-shrink dough

and – just about everyone else has a pie rolling video out. Apple Pie alone could entertain you on the internet for weeks on end…..

Roll out one disk, put it on the pie plate.

Roll out the other disk.

Put the Apple in the bottom crust. Dot with butter. Maybe sprinkle with sugar.

Put the top crust on.

Almost pie.

julia6

The other kind of rolling pin

Crimping Station

In pie, crimping is good. It holds everything together.It can be pretty, too. Remember that that oven is heating up, and the longer the filling sits in unbaked crust, the soggier your bottom will be. And a little venting in the top. Even a pie has to let off some steam.

 

Baking Station

Now is the time to pass this pan, with apples and butter and flour  through heat, where it will be transformed. It’s not really pie until it comes out of the hot oven.

Start at 425°. After 10 or 15 minutes take a peak – is it browning up? Is it smelling good. A good pie crust is golden brown, not pasty palely white. Let it cook! Turn it down to 375° when you see color on the pastry, and let it continue baking until juices are bubbling.Let the fruit cook, too. 30-45 minutes – don’t rush it.

Cooling Station

If you REALLY want to eat pie hot – even though pie is not at all it’s best then – use spoons and dish it up like like a baked pudding. Forget all pretense of slices.

As it cools, contemplate – whipped cream, ice cream, cheddar cheese?

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Henry Ward Beecher on Apple Pie

[B]lessed be the unknown person who invented the apple-pie! Did I know where the grave of that person was, methinks I would make a devout pilgrimage thither, and rear a monument over it that should mark the spot to the latest generations. Of all pies, of every name, the apple-pie is easily the first and chief.

Apple-Pie should be eaten while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!), of a mild and modest warmth; the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied; the morsels of apple neither dissolved, nor yet in original substance, but hanging, as it were, in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood.

Not that apple is no longer apple! It, too, is transformed; and the final pie, though born of apple, sugar, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon, is unlike none of these, but the ideal of them all, refined, purified, and by fire fixed in blissful perfection.

Enjoy!

 

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We Gather Together

Fall is in the air, and it’s

 

Pie in the Sky season!

Community Servings prepares and delivers delicious, medically-tailored meals to 1,600 homebound individuals and families in 20 Massachusetts communities each year. For $30, the cost of a pie, we are able to feed a client for a week. As you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, please remember that a sick neighbor is also eating today, thanks to you!

Click the link and buy a pie! Pie in the Sky is part of Community Servings.

The South Shore Locovores

are planning the next Pie-Making Marathon for  November 17, 2016. This will be the third year community joins together to make pies for the Food Pantry to give away for Thanksgiving.If your in the the Greater Kingston (MA) area on the 17th, come and join the fun.

Pies are made with apples, and sugar, and spice, and love.

PAC TV video from last year….

and from the year before….

Making pie is….

well, easy as PIE

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A Damp But Delicious Day

More on the Pie of Hawley!

Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival (and Pie Extravaganza!)

sirewebWill Cosby won the Pie Contest with his Ginger Apple “Moose” Pie.

The Hawley Gentlemen’s Pie and Tart Extravaganza took place on a rainy day—but the dampness didn’t seem to affect anyone’s fun.
The pies arrived on time.

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Our three judges (only two are pictured below; the other got lost in West Hawley and will show up in a later photo!) took their job very seriously and deliberated long and hard.

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While the judging took place most of the crowd huddled indoors. A few brave souls ventured out to investigate Hawley’s lovely (if wet) scenery and history.

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After the judging session lunch was served to an appreciative crowd of all ages.

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The pie parade followed.

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Musical director Alice Parker took the name “Alfred” for the day so she could enter the contest.

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Some contestants entered more than one pie.

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The musical entertainment staged a re-enactment of the first men’s pie…

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Pie Parade

The Pies!

The Pies!

A note on the judges – there was me, from Plimoth Plantation

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There was Doris Cooper of Clarkson Potter Publishing

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and the third judge was Darra Goldstein    of Williams College and Cured magazine

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I’m pretty much listing  the pies as I found them on the tables…..This is all from my (incomplete) and rather hastily scribbled notes and there are a few smears…..pie judging is not for the dainty or the fainthearted.

I also didn’t write down who made what pie, which I didn’t know until the prizes were being given out. Several people made more then one pie.

There were several not quite pies….

  1. Cherry Claflouti – a batter, not a crust. This is not the actual entry, which was more attractive  …clafouti_august_2008
  2. Medieval Brie Tart – Yes – Medieval Brie , although the recipe was old, the ingredients were fresh. From To the King’s Taste by Lorna Sass.More on this in a later post  kings-taste-sass
  3. Apple Tart – this was a French Apple tart – rectangular and lovely. Crisp golden pastry…
  4. Corn and Zucchini quiche – This had an incredible Autumnal Yankee taste – first impression. I know, zukes and Yankees….but that is what my mouth told me. And now for the Pie Pies:
  5. Maple Walnut Pie – New England’s answer to Pecan Pie…..
  6. Smith Family Chocolate Pie – this was a cream pie with chocolate added. When I first looked at it, I almost thought it was pate – but the smell was wrong, and the label …. a good name makes ALL the difference sometimes!
  7. Chocolate Meringue Nut Surprise  – two chocolate pies! – This had a lovely meringue  and a chocolate custard base, as well as nuts. It wasn’t until the third taste that I found the surprise – BLUEBERRIES -Surprise! –  little tiny wild blueberries between the chocolate and the meringue. This is why you need THREE bites.
  8. Apple Butternut – sliced apples and diced butternut squash . Very traditional. For a long time apple and squash/pumpkin were sliced up together in pies.I’ll probably do another post on the apple/pumpkin connection, too.
  9. Apple Bread Pie – had quite a bit going for it- but a better name might be ‘Ginger Apple Bread Pie’ This was an apple pie with gingerbread spicing….but I was looking for the bready filling…
    pie2016brandonsmith-applebreadpie

    Mardi Smith took these pictures and shared them on Facebook Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Two Crust Lemon pie – great crust and great lemon filling.

     

  10. Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Two Crust Lemon pie – great crust and great lemon filling.

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    Shakers did 2 crust lemon pies….this is not the entry pie. Next contest – take a camera!

  11. Country Rumpkin –  Here are my bite reactions:
            1. This would be a great cocktail!
            2. Why ISN”T this a cocktail – a rum and pumpkin cocktail?
            3. This is one great Pumpkin Pie – and I swear it wasn’t the rum talking. I may put rum into all my pumpkin pie from here on out.Alice Parker thought with the rain there might not be enough pies, so she baked one, and dressed like a gentleman – Alfred Parker  – to abide by the rules. And she played the piano.
               

               

  12. Ginger Apple Moose Pie – The moose, to our great relief , was not the meat within, but the antler shapes cut out on top.
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Will holding his prize winning pie –  golden, gorgeous, every element was above.

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How to Judge a Pie

Notes from a Fan

I try to be open minded in my real life, not judgmental – but when it comes to Pie….well, this is not my first pie judging. And there is a difference between the good, the very good and the sublime. I have yet to have bad homemade pie (commercial pie is a whole ‘nother world), but I am willing to keep tasting to risk it!

Pies have 2 parts – crust and filling. They are evaluated separately and then together.

There were 2 criteria – appearance and taste. I would add name as a criteria….because what you call it raises expectations, but can also be clarifying. And it has to deliver. Promise and delivery – that’s the name of the pie game.

 Appearance:

Appearances Count!

Crust:

Pastry Soapbox time: Pie dough, pie crust – whatever you call it, it should be golden, and browned and beautiful- not pale or wan. It needs to contribute to the whole – otherwise, put the filling in a greased casserole dish and call the whole thing pudding!

To quote Martha Stewart Living  magazine Nov 2016 p. 142

mslnov2016

“With pies, color equals flavor: We can spot a pale, underbaked one a mile away! Look for deep golden-brown top and bottom crusts, and major bubbling action in the center.” *

*Fruit pie have the bubbling center action – other sorts of pie, not so much or not at all!

Without proper browning, the flour is pasty and the fat component is just greasy. Many pie recipes are far too timid  in the baking – start with a hot oven – you can turn it down in 10 or 15 minutes – and really build some color and depth of flavor.

Pale crust says ‘Not sublime’ And now back to judging criteria….

Slice – It doesn’t have to hold be perfect, but it has to hold promise. If it has a sloppy or runny filling, use a spoon to serve so we know that you know what’s going on. Spoons are more traditional!

heda-1642

1642 – Willem Claeszoon Heda 

 

Taste:

Scent is part of the first taste – what does it promise?

A quick note about names….what you call it sets an expectation, too. And it should deliver. There was a chocolate cream pie that looked rather more like pate …a name label made a HUGE difference on my expectation!

Three tastes are necessary for judgment – the first impression; the second after your mouth knows what’s coming, the middle notes; the third for a lasting impression, the one you take away. Mouth feel, spicing, balance, texture, funny bits…all things to look for in taste.

First impressions are sometimes a surprise. That’s why you need a second taste (and maybe a bottle of water) to get a real grasp of what’s going on.

Memory – 5 minutes later….which are the pies you want to go back to? Was the flavor hit fleeting or lasting?

pie2016poster

Because I was late to the Pie Contest in Hawley, the other judges had already begun. They had moved the tarts, quiche and clafuti into a separate category, so that we were judging pies against pies.

FYI – Every pie had a prize. Because I know how Tinky plans these things, I was pretty sure that there were as many prizes as pies. No one went home empty handed (even the judges got booty bags).

 

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#NationalPastaDay

is today, October 17th and I almost missed it.

Actually, ANY Day WITHOUT Pasta is a day I don’t have very often.

And I was raised to call it Macaroni.

Macaronis

in the plural.

macaronis

This image from Wikipedia under ‘macaroni’ is labeled: “macaronis”

Sometimes Noodles…….noodles could be macaroni. Like lasagna noodles….

Pasta was something we didn’t talk about when I was young, back in the olden days….

We had Baked Macaroni and Cheese for Friday nights – and nothing out of  blue boxes then either.

We had Prince Macaroni on Wednesdays….princespaghettibridgeIt was called the Prince Macaroni Plant. The facility was sold in 2014 and now Prince Pasta is part of a mega conglomerate.This bridge was (is) in Lowell MA.

 

….or whatever brand of macaroni was on sale, although we an an awful lot of Mueller’s.

 

muellers-pastaAnd now, for my sad rather pathetic recent macaroni story. It starts with broccoli….

Brassica oleracea var. italica

Brassica oleracea var. italica – the broccoli I was looking at was even more lovely then this!

I saw a beautiful, lovely, absolutely GORGEOUS head of broccoli at the store. I had purchased some feta at the Farmer’s Market and I remembered a dish that was Feta, Broccoli and Rice  from Jeanne Lemlin’s  Quick  Vegetarian Pleasures that I had not made in far too long

qvp-lemlin

This is soooo simple.

  1. Put the rice on to cook – I found the jar with rice, then a found another jar, with a little less rice….so I measured out the water, sauteed the rice, added the water and a little salt and set it up to boil.
  2. I rinsed and broke apart the broccoli into bite sized bits.
  3. I realized the original recipe called for tomatoes, choose to not use them, and got out some crushed hot pepper.
  4. I put some olive oil in a big saute pan, let it heat. Added the broccoli, stirred around, then added some water and put on the lid. The lid was the wrong lid – too small….couldn’t find the right lid. The water was evaporating too fast – add a little more water. Add the crushed red pepper and some salt – very little – there’s feta coming up – and stir around.
  5. Timer dings – rice is ready! Open the rice pot – the rice has swelled and there’s lots of water on top!….Did I use too much water? Why yes, I had – twice as much water as I needed. But the size, the shape….had I used the last of the orzo instead of the dregs of rice????
  6. Why yes, yes, I had! What NOW?????
  7. Drain the pasta – which had cooked for 20 minutes and if it hadn’t been orzo it might just be glop….
  8. Add the overcooked orzo to the broccoli, turn the heat up for a bit to get a little more saute action going….now the liquid is evaporating…..stir stir stir
  9. Add the crumbled feta, stir and adjust the seasonings – it actually needed a little more salt because the pasta was SOOO waterlogged.
  10. Serve and enjoy. On the plate and hot it was good. The next day for lunch, with a little more oil and vinegar, it was great pasta/broccoli/feta salad.
  11. New Rule – label ALL jars in the cupboard.
  12. Although this dish is very good with rice – Orzo would be even quicker.
ball-jar-labels-disolvable

These labels and a Sharpie now live in the cupboard. Everything gets a label.

 

 

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Judgement Day

No, not THAT Judgement day –

PIE Contest judging day!!!!!

THIS Pie contest

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So much talent

Such mighty fine pies

pie2016parade

Pie Parade – I’m bringing up the rear with Alice Parker’s pie, since she – as Alfred Parker, is playing the piano and didn’t have a hand free. Tinky is in the hat, singing like a bird.

Like any good pie, this story has more than one slice…..

thelma-and-louise-car

Our car had a roof, so we were dry in the rain. And we had fall foliage. And no Brad Pitt.But we were driving towards PIE!

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice one – This year I did not go alone. Baker Tani wanted to go to taste pies, too. So early in the morning we left, driving out from coastal Plymouth to the Hills of Hawley. Three hours and Fall Foliage and maybe we got a little lost up the mountain later, we get there.There was also rain and Honey Dew coffee and Doughnuts and the Mohawk Trail and  Thelma and Louise-ishness. At least the part about 2 women on a road trip. Neither of us could remember much about the movie, just the image of  two women in a car, one with a scarf. And Brad Pitt.We remembered Brad Pitt.

 

thelma-louise-brad

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 2 – The judging of pies

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 3 – Ham and Bean Community lunch

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 4 – The entertainment after lunch and before the winners were announced. This including the singing of the town song…..

whoville-xmas-morning

There’s a certain Whos of Whoville  vibe about the town song

pie-lemon-merinque-slice Slice 5 – The Winners (there are no losers in PIE!) and the prizes

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 6 – The PIES

 

To be continued……..

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Oatober

Make that #Oatober….someone at Quaker Oats is pretty genius.

Could it be this guy??

quaker-1877

This is the first Quaker for Oats – trademarked in 1877. They’ve been working the genius marketing for a while.

And in 1891, Quaker put the first recipe on the back of the box – for Oatmeal Bread…A few years later Fannie Farmer had a Quaker Oats Bread in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. Coincidence? I think not!

QUAKER OATS BREAD (1896)

Ingredients
2 cups boiling water.
1/2 cup molasses.
1/2 tablespoon salt.
1/2 yeast cake dissolved in
1/2 cup lukewarm water.
1 cup Quaker Rolled Oats.
4 3/4 cups flour.

Directions
Add boiling water to oats and let stand one hour; add molasses, salt, dissolved yeast cake, and flour; let rise, beat thoroughly, turn into buttered bread pans, let rise again, and bake.

By using one-half cup less flour, the dough is better suited for biscuits, but, being soft, is difficult to handle.

To make shaping of biscuits easy, take up mixture by spoonfuls, drop into plate of flour, and have palms of hands well covered with flour before attempting to shape.

The Boston Cooking School Cookbook
By Fannie Merritt Farmer (1896)pp.59-60.

This makes a pretty dense loaf…and pretty is the wrong word, too. But it makes great toast. Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread is a lighter brighter oatmeal bread option.

My other oat adventure today was thanks to Martha Stewart.

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Martha Stewart, probably kicking herself for not coming up with Oatober.

In the September issue of Martha Stewart Living she had a tip and recipe for quick cooking steel cut oats.

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I eat oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every morning and have for years. I believe that oats truly brought my cholesterol levels down, down and fast, and frankly eating breakfast is pretty easy, pretty inexpensive and has far fewer side effects then most of those little pills…. not to mention more pleasant and easier to remember in the fog of morning. Oats are the base, the only choices I have to make are what to put in them. That choice I usually make at the market, and do the same breakie all week. Ah, blueberries and cinnamon! Oh, Parmesan and pepper!  Dropt egg and rooster sauce; cranberries and honey….The Gracious Pantry has some pretty inspired oatmeal toppings. Back to oats –

Steel cut out are nubbly and more textured then rolled outs.

rolled_oats

Extreme closeup of rolled oats – the roller goes over them and they get very very thin

 

bowl_of_dry_steel-cut_oats_with_full_spoon

Steel cut oats – are chopped – chunky – chewy

Steel cut oats take longer to cook and are not zippy quick or mindless in the morning. I do not want to spend my dawn’s early light time at the stove stirring porridge.There’s always a slow cooker option, but then I’d be making lots, and have to repack to re-heat…not easier.

BUT

soak them the night before, and then 5-10 minutes in the pan – easy peasy! I made enough for one – so 1/4 cup of steel cut oats, 1 cup water and a pinch of salt in my littlest sauce pan and pop the lid on. It sat on the stove overnight, so was there to greet me when I put the coffee on, and after the first cup I remembered why it was there….

lecreuset-pot

This look very much like my little yellow pot, which pretty much lives on top of my stove.It’s that kind of workhorse.

After the second cup, awake and ready to rejoin the world, I brought the oats and water and the pinch of salt to a boil. I then lowered the heat to a fairly active simmer and stirred it from time to time until the water was gone and it was just oaty goodness and no longer liquid. A tooth test – firm, some give, but not hard, not little pebbles. Done. Under 10 minutes, maybe 7 or 8.

Rolled oats take 5 minutes at 50% power in the microwave. The new directions on the box say 3 minutes at 100%, but this just make them pasty. Take the 2 extra minutes!

Martha eats her oatmeal with golden raisins and currants and a slash of low fat milk. Sweet and milky are not my cup of tea. I had some butter and a little cheddar cheese.

There is a really great oatmeal muffin recipe lurking in one of my cookbooks…apples or was it apple sauce? Fortunately, I have all of Oatober ahead of me to find it.

bowl_of_oatmeal_cover_art

My Bowl of Oatmeal was not a movie…and I not on speaking terms with my breakie.

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Hare to today….

Snowshoe_Hare,_Shirleys_Bay

 

rabbits - 3 transferware cup Hancocks

bunnyPuigaudeau,_Ferdinand_du_-_Chinese_Schadows,_the_Rabbit.jpeg

hare today, gone tomorrow

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