Archive for October, 2011

February 10, 2013: I have updated this post with additional instruction for the nokedli and a new photo.

It’s the eve of Halloween and we’re getting really excited about our fast approaching trip to Morocco. There are so many things still to do, like packing, for example!

Our House Decked out for Halloween

Pumpkin Lights in the Planters

Not withstanding, I promised a scary story, the final installment. So here it is… Sadly, my dear Dad was jaundiced from owning a home because the Russians had taken away his family home and he was afraid it would happen again, so we lived in a very nice newly built apartment in suburban Toronto. We had just visited Hungary the first time and both my brother and I were a little freaked out because we had seen museum after museum of archeological digs – mainly skulls (Hungary was the munitions centre of the Roman Empire and the country is littered with Roman Ruins). The skulls both fascinated us and freaked us out at the same time.
Upon our return to Canada we decided to share a room in our apartment, on his side the walls were decorated with Hot Wheels and on mine, Barbie wallpaper. Most nights were fine, but on occasion one of us would have a bad dream and crawl into Mom and Dad’s bed. On this night, it was my brother that ventured into Mom and Dad’s room for safety and my Dad came in and slept in my brother’s bed.
Waking up in the middle if the night is never fun when you’re little; everything is so dark and shadows seem alive! I should have felt safe because my Dad was in the room, but he was snoring away about 10 feet from me and unaware of the shadows. The head of my bed faced away from the window; we were on the second floor and plenty of street light poured in through the curtains — plenty to make evil shadows come alive, that is. I awoke with a start! There is a HUGE man in a cowboy hat standing at the foot of my bed; I see only the silhouette, there are no features, but he looks mean. I can’t speak, I can hardly breathe. I blink, oh my god, he’s still there. I blink even harder, damn, still there. I hide my head under the covers and count to ten. There is no man in the room and my Dad is right there not more than 10 feet from me. I know it’s in my head, but crap, it seems so real. I peak out one last time, and HE’S STILL THERE. Now, I really can’t breathe. I hide my head under the covers and I stay there; I imagine the lack of oxygen caused me to fall asleep, and when I woke up in the morning, with the sun pouring in, the shadow man was gone! Or the entire episode was a dream that seemed so real.

Year’s later, as an adult, I read about the Shadow People, and now wonder if it had been real!

Ready for the recipe? I have perfected this recipe over the years trying to make it healthier (Hungarians cook with a lot of lard and although it is flavourful, it is definitely not good for you).

Healthy Chicken Paprikas


  • 4 x 100g skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 roughly chopped medium sweet onion (I used vidalia)
  • 1 cup cubed celery root
  • 3 ripe red peppers
  • 2 tbsp Hungarian Sweet Papkria
  • 1-2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup + 4 tbsp non fat Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Roast the peppers in the oven until the skins are black. Set into a bowl with a plate covering it to allow the peppers to steam.
  2. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off.
  3. Purée the peppers using an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the Hungarian paprika, but be careful not to burn, this isn’t like Indian spices, paprika will burn quickly.
  5. To the onions, add the celery root and 1 cup chicken stock. Add the puréed roasted red peppers, and a little more chicken stock. Cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat, until the celery root is soft.
  6. Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Pass through a fine seive.
  7. Before returning the sauce to the heat, add 1 tbsp oil to the dutch oven. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and brown in the hot oil. Add the paprika sauce back into the pan with the chicken and cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat or until the chicken is cooked through. You can remove from the heat and freeze for future use, or use right away.
  8. Add 1 tsp flour to the yogurt and mix well (this will prevent the yogurt from separating when adding to the paprika sauce). Add the yogurt to the chicken paprikas and mix well.
  9. To serve, pour into a large decorative dish and drizzle with the remaining yogurt, garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Ingredients for the Nokedli (dumplings):

Hungarian Paprika and the Nokedli Szagato (dumpling tool)

General rule of thumb for this recipe is 1 cup flour and 1 egg per person. In my efforts to make this a healthier meal, I generally use 1 egg for the pot and 4 tbsp egg whites and 1/2 cup flour per person. The nokedli are lighter and not as yellow as using full eggs, but the flavour is still there. You make the nokedli by hand using a small cutting board and a knife and just cutting off small bits of the dough right into the boiling water (Hungarians call this Csipetke) or you can use a nokedli maker.

  • 2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat but it changes the texture a bit, so I would only recommend 1/4 cup ww and 1 3/4 white flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 12 tbsp egg whites
  • salt and pepper to taste
The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.


  1. Beat egg and egg white until slightly frothy. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the flour until it form a soft dough (I usually do this in the food processor). Add little bits of water if necessary to make a loose pasta-like dough (don’t worry if it’s too thick, you can add bits of the hot water to it as you are pressing it through the nokedli press.
  3. In a large soup pot, boil water with salt.
  4. Once the water is on a hard boil, start making the nokedli. You can make the entire batch in this one pot, they won’t stick together if you stir them once in a while. When you are done they should all float to the top. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Add the nokedli to a bowl and drizzle with oil so they don’t stick together.
  6. When ready to serve, heat 3 tbsp butter in a large dutch oven. Add nokedli and reheat, crisping up the edges a bit (we like them crisped).
  7. Serve family style in a large serving vessel.

Egéségedre! (to your health!)


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When it rains, it pours! We’re so busy at work (not complaining!) and I’ve just gotten a huge freelance project that needs to be completed before we leave for Morocco, AND we’re hosting two dinner parties on the weekend on Saturday and Sunday evening! Call me crazy but I actually get invigorated when things are so hectic!

Here are some pics from past Halloweens – we try to do different pumpkins every year. This one will be a challenge for me as I have a slight tear in my right rotator cuff and I’m right handed! But JT said he would eviscerate my pumpkin for me (gosh, that sounds so ghoulish!)

Our pumpkins from 2006

Our 2007 Pumpkins

Here is another scary story: Several years ago JTs elderly Aunt and Uncle had to move from their home of 65 years to a retirement home. They had three children a boy and two girls; sadly the boy, Norman who was very close to JT, unexpectedly died at 18 at home. Because the remaining children were unable to help clean up the house (renamed the “stinky house”) for resale, JT stepped up. It took several weeks and several dump bins to empty the house (read horders) and because JT refused any money for the work he put in, the Aunt generously told him he could have anything he wanted from the house. We fell in love with a couple of things (that were from JTs grandparents) including a small enamel lamp that we put into the guest room upstairs.
As I’ve mentioned before, our home is a craftsman style home that was built in 1928. The front door was original at that time; it had a retrofitted key operated dead bolt but it also had one of those weird locks that operates with a little button on the side that we NEVER used. Here is a photo of a similar lock (our’s was not that ornate), you would push the little button above the dead bolt and it would bolt out. I am illustrating this to show how difficult it is to push the little button in, one would have to intentionally do it!

You see how difficult it might be to push that little button in? We had all but forgotten about that feature on the door lock.

The day we brought the stuff home we were UNABLE to unlock the front door! Fortunately, I had hidden a key to the back door so we were able to gain access to the house only to discover that somehow, someone had pushed that little button in. Hmmm.
About a week later I awoke in the middle of the night and was unable to sleep, so instead of waking JT I went into the guest room to read; I tried turning on the little enamel light…nothing. I checked the bulb, it was there and it was screwed in well. I had to turn on the overhead light to find that the light had been unplugged! I hadn’t done it, nor JT! I got really creeped out and decided to go back to our bedroom and force myself to sleep. These two coincidences freeked me out a bit (yes, I believe in ghosts!) so the very next morning I stood in the guest room and said out loud: Norman, you’re freaking me out, please stop it.” and nothing weird has happened since. Thanks Norman.
For our first dinner guests this weekend, I needed to keep things simple, so we’re serving the Provençal fish soup that I made last week and froze, and JT has generously offered to make that delicious Moroccan beef recipe. Dessert is an old fashion apple crisp — I’ve taken a few pointers from Chicago John’s from the Bartolini Kitchens so this standard recipe has been modified with his experience. Thanks John.

Apple Crisp


  • 3 Baking apples (we used Royal Gala), peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (we are not sweet eaters, so you may wish to increase this)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp cognac for each serving (I made these up in ramekins)


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly ground walnuts (so they are about the size of the oats)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • pinch of salt


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix both types of apple cubes with the lemon juice in a bowl.
  3. Mix the spices, sugar, flour and walnuts in another bowl.
  4. Toss the apples with the spice mix to coat well.
  5. Lightly butter 6 ramekins (I used 4oz).
  6. Evenly distribute the apple mixture in the 6 ramekins.
  7. Blend the topping mixture with the exception of the butter. Mix well.
  8. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until mixture forms soft clumps.
  9. Evenly press this mixture over the apples in the ramekins.
  10. Place the ramekins onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the topping is golden and the apples are soft.
  11. Serve with your very best vanilla ice cream.

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In honour of the upcoming festive holiday season, I thought I would present some past photos and share a couple of scary stories. Oh, did you think I was going to blog about Christmas? Hmm!
Halloween is such a fun time of year. JT and I usually have a pumpkin carving contest, we decorate the exterior of the house, even have a scary music loop on the night we hand out candy to the neighbourhood kiddies.

Some years it’s been so lovely and warm that we sit on our Muskoka Chairs on our front porch, sipping martinis as the little ghouls and goblins muster up the courage to step up to the porch and beg for candy; other years, like last, it’s been bitterly cold so we sipped martinis inside in front of the fire, being jolted up every few minutes with the doorbell and screams of “trick or treat!” I have a feeling that this year will be colder than ever, and possibly even snow. When it is cold I feel bad for the kiddies to have to wear their winter coats over their carefully designed costumes, yup I’ve been there!

Some of you will know that I am usually not a scary or ugly costume person at Halloween; even as a child, I was always ‘a pretty lady!’ Mom would make up my face, put fake nails and lashes on, and I would dress up with heels and hats! I’ve always left the scary, weird costumes to my younger brother (Flap Jack’s dad). A couple of years ago we were invited to a Halloween party at one of the photographers we know through my work, they really put on a wonderful first class bash in their studio. I just knew a ‘pretty lady’ wouldn’t cut it, plus JT and I wanted to go as a team. After incredible amount of research we finally landed on Bonnie and Clyde. We rented the old movie with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway and decided right away that we would model our Bonnie and Clyde after the characters in that movie. We scoured the thrift stores for our costumes which we made from scratch (no packaged costumes for us). We put together a very convincing couple, down to the (fake) cigarettes they chain smoked. It was about a week before the party and I’m talking to my friend (boss) Kim about the party and just had to tell her what we had planned. She suggested we go as ‘dead’ Bonnie and Clyde just to get into the Halloween spirit. Hmmmm, dead doesn’t look pretty! But JT loved the idea, so we did it. Bullet holes, makeup, drippy blood. Yup, we were ‘dead’! Soooo cool! I loved it! I can’t believe I missed out on the gore all these years. No one even needed to ask who we were, everyone knew!


Do you have a scary story you would like to share?





OK, now the scary story:
At Univerisity I befriended the school photographer, Ken who was a few years older than I. A group of us hung out. Around our third year, Ken’s parents bought a cottage. Shortly after Ken and his bud Pete went up to the cottage for the weekend. Ken was also an artistic photographer, so he was always taking the artsy shots. Ken brought a silver manican up that weekend to photograph in the light of the moon. It was one of those solid manicans that couldn’t move or turn its head etc. He and Pete were in the forest, while Pete was throwing a white cloth up in the air above the silver manican, Ken was catching the cloth and the subject in a shot! All of a sudden, they both saw the manican turn its head! But it couldn’t! What? Did you see that? It happened a couple of times, enough that these two grown men decided they’d had enough! They bedded down in one if the guest rooms with bunk beds, but they couldn’t sleep. The thought of the manican turning its head kept coming up. For some reason, Ken decided they need to name this silver manican.
These are two very suburban boys, both of English decent; after much debate, they decided to name the silver manican Ghertie! A nice German name.
It wasn’t until about a week later, they were told the previous owner of the cottage was named Ghertie and she actually died that very night they were photographing the manican in the forest!!! This story still gives me the creeps!
I spotted this recipe on Angie’s Recipes blog and I knew I had to make it for Kim (friend, boss) who is throwing a Halloween party on Sunday for her 10 year old daughter. I won’t repeat the recipe, so click here for the link. I’m not sure if my altitude is different than Angie’s but I would add a bit more flour and bake at a slightly higher temperature next time.

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Weekends are always special for breakfast. We’re not rushing around to get out of the house as we do during the week, we have a bit more time to fancy it up. One of our favourites is Panettone French Toast. I usually buy a large dried fruit panettone whenever it’s on sale, and slice it up into 3-4cm thick slices and freeze them in individual baggies (in Toronto our Italians make the panetonne in about 20 cm rounds, so I generally cut the slices in half). In effort to cut back and be a little healthier, I find that cubing a 1/2 slice of panettone between the two of us, is plenty. This time I topped it with sliced oranges and prunes.

Panettone French Toast Cups


  • 1/2 slice of panettone cut into 2cm cubes (about a half a circle 20cm in diametre)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites
  • 1/2 cup of non fat yogurt
  • 1 orange, sectioned
  • 3 prunes cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup with 1/2 tsp vanilla, warmed


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray two ramekins (about 8cm in diametre and 10cm tall) with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place the panettone cubes into each ramekin (about the same number in each)
  4. Beat the egg, egg white and non fat yogurt in a small mixing bowl.
  5. Pour half the mixture into each ramekin and push the panettone down so that it soaks up the mixture well.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. The egg mixture will rise like a beautiful souffle. Turn out of the ramekin and sit upright in the middle of the plate.
  7. Serve immediately with warm maple syrup and sliced oranges and prunes. You can even dollop some non-fat yogurt on top for a nice contract of cold and hot.

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A couple of months ago, fellow food blogger Charles blogged about a Bouillabaisse recipe and that inspired me to want to make one of my own. It’s finally getting chilly here in Toronto so it’s definitely soup weather!

In 2008 we were fortunate enough to travel with our dear friends Paul and T to Europe. We traveled for 15 days from Vienna to Budapest (I have family there) to Venice to Provence and finally to Paris. We ate, drank and lived like kings and queen’s and had an amazing time. In Marseille I ate the most wonderful fish soup and through Charles’ inspiration, I shall try to recreate my version of this famous Provençal Soup.

Paul, Eva and Theresa sitting on a ledge at Notre-Dame de la Garde

View from Notre-Dame de la Garde

On Charles’ blog post I mentioned that I have a secret ingredient. Are you ready? I keep a zip lock bag in my freezer. Wow! Crazy isn’t it? Every time I make shrimp and clean the shells/tails from them (raw), I drop them into this baggy instead of tossing them in the compost bin. Over the summer, I have accumulated quite a lot. Also, if we have lobster or crab which we did, I always save the shells and drop them into this baggy. This is going to be my flavour base.

The secret ingredient

Because I wanted to keep relatively true to the origin of the soup, I based my recipe on Epicurious because it read like the one I had in Marseille, although I have altered it to our taste. The recipe makes 8 servings, so I will cool and freeze 6 servings for future use. The fresh seafood will be for 2 servings and I will deal with it in the final cooking and assembly stage.

Everybody in the pot!


  • 250g or 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large fennel bulb, stalks discarded, reserving fronds for garnish, and bulb chopped
  • 200g or 1medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 500g or 1 celery root, peeled and cubed (I have used this instead of celery as I don’t want to thicken the soup with a roux, I’ll thicken it with vegetables instead).
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 2 California or 4 Turkish bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 500g or 1 large ziplock bag of shrimp tails, lobster shells and such
  • 1 cup of raw shrimp
  • 2 cans chopped stewed tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
  • 4L water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large soup kettle, put two tables spoons of EVOO and heat gently. Add leeks, fennel, carrot, celery root, garlic, herbes de Provence, bay leaves, cayenne, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon pepper cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water and the bag of shrimp tails, lobsters shells and such. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours (the broth should have a lovely seafood flavour and aroma).
  3. Force this mixture (yes, even the shrimp tails and lobster shells) through a food mill. You will not believe the flavour you will get from the seafood dregs!
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, wine and orange zest and bring back up to a boil for a minute or two. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bout 15 minutes. Now press this through a fine sieve to make it a creamy silken soup (although the authentic soup does have some bits and chunks in it)
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Set aside to cool and portion into plastic containers for freezing.

Ingredients for serving for two:

  • 2 portions of the previously made soup
  • 6 raw large shrimp
  • 300g of sturdy white fish, such as Haddock, or Hallibut
  • any other seafood you wish to add


  1. On the day that you wish to serve this soup, defrost the portions you need, and reheat to a slow boil. Add the fish and shrimp and cook through.
  2. Serve immediately with crostini and saffron aioli.

Provençal Fish Soup

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Flap Jacks for Halloween

Well, the title of this post might be a bit misleading…I’m not posting a recipe for flap jacks (or commonly known as pancakes — or cakes of pan in my house!). I am, however, going to share detailed instructions for creating a flap jack costume as my nephew Jack (the fire-maker Thanksgiving Weekend) asked if I could sew him one. Sadly, I have committed to a freelance design project and won’t have the time before I leave, so I created detailed instructions on how to make the costume.

I immediately envisioned this costume in my head, so it was a matter of simply drawing and putting words to it. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, but I wanted a convincing costume so that Jack as Flap Jack would be pretty obvious. Click on the illustrations to see a full size version.

Illustration of Flap Jack Costume


    • 1 1/2”  Thick Foam – enough to make three full circles about 15” above the head to the knees.
    • Glue gun or spray glue (spray glue must be specific for foam)
    • Light beige long sleeve T-shirt, to match pancake.
    • Dark brown leggings and shoes.
    • ORDORLESS Spray paint for foam (Michaels will have this, ordinary spray paint will dissolve the foam):
    • Light beige for pancake,
    • Slightly darker brown for golden cooked parts of the flap jack,
    • Golden brown for syrup
    • Bright yellow for butter.


Cutting a giant circle

  1. To cut the rounds required: Measure about 12-15” above Jack’s head to about his knees.
  2. Divide circumference by 2, and cut a piece of string about 5” longer.
  3. Tie a pen or marker to the string on one side, and a safety pin to the other side. Safety pin it to the centre of the foam.
  4. Holding the string tight, draw a circle around the centre (like a giant compass).
  5. Cut THREE rounds like this. Save the corner pieces (this will be the butter).
  6. On ONE circle, cut an oval for the face about 12-15” from the top of the round.
  7. Place the face hole over Jack’s face and approximate where his arms would need to come out, and cut two smaller ovals for the arms.

Cutting a place for your face and arms

For the syrup:

  1. Place the cut (with face and arm holes) on TOP of one of the remaining circles  and trace where you put the face and arm holes.  Cut them out as close to the original size or SMALLER than the first one.
  2. Now cut the syrup in an amoeba-like shape so that it looks like it was poured and is oozing all over the flap jack.

Syrup Pattern

The butter:

  1. From the corners of the foam, cut a pat of butter in a rectangle form like shown. To make it more 3-D, cut 3 the same shape.
  2. The 4th and top layer of the butter, should be cut to be drippy on two sides, as illustrated.
  3. Assemble the butter layer over layer, so that they are glued together as tightly as possible to each edge, including the one that has the melty drips, allowing the melty drips to stick out (they will be glued to the flap jack on assembly).

Butter is cut from left-over foam. 4 layers gives you the height/thickness needed


  1. Paint the TWO OUTSIDES of the flap jack circles the light brown colour.
  2. Take the slightly darker paint and spray cooking marks on both sides, as illustrated (it doesn’t need to be perfect, cooking flap jacks is not perfect either!)
  3. Spray the syrup the golden darker brown on ONE SIDE.
  4. Paint the butter the bright yellow, even the edges.
  5. Allow all three pieces to dry completely (you may want to put outside so it doesn’t smell too bad).

Painting the pieces


  1. Glue the two main flap jack pieces together so that you ONLY glue 3/4 of the way around, starting from the left outside leg to the right outside leg (this allows Jack to slip into the costume from the bottom. ONLY GLUE THE EDGES.
  2. Glue the Syrup on top of the FRONT LAYER (the one with the holes for the face and arms) making sure you LINE UP the face and arms PERFECTLY).
  3. Glue the butter onto the Flap Jack making sure you don’t cover the face or arm holes, place where ever you want. Glue the melty bits so that it oozes down the side of the butter edges ONTO the flap jack.
  4. Make sure the glue has enough time to dry before you wear it.

Assembly is easier than you think


  1. An electric knife is perfect for cutting thick foam, MAKE SURE MOM OR DAD ASSIST.
  2. Try to get ODOR FREE spray paint and glue. It could be smelly.

Copyright Eva Taylor. You may copy this pattern for your own personal use or on your blog as long as you link back to my blog and give me credit for it.

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As you may know, we renovated our kitchen about four years ago, adding about 100 square feet to our modest little 10′ x10′ craftsman-style kitchen and basement. Most renovations don’t go exactly to plan, and our’s was no different. I had hoped to gain an olive oil and vinegar drawer beside the stove and a great spice pullout on the other side, but because we have some angles on our main wall with most of the cabinets, we were limited (it makes for an interesting layout, but awkward functionality). I did manage both of my wishes, but we had to be creative on where we put them.
For years I managed with my spices being in small labelled tins, but a tablespoon of this or that would deplete my tin, so I was constantly refilling. Last fall, we were visiting our good friends Paul and T in Yorkville Illinois and I noticed that she had some lovely little jars of spices she had picked up in Target (we Canadians say Tarjé, as in French!). Much to my surprise, she generously picked up an entire set for me! What a dear, dear friend.
They didn’t have some of the unique spices I like to have on hand (such as garam masala, meat masala or five Chinese spice) so I relabeled some duplicates, which worked out perfectly! Now my spice drawer is complete! I’m wondering what my next project should be?

Yes, I may have ‘type-A’ tendencies! The spices are organized alphabetically! It’s not crazy, just super organized! No, really!

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