Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Easy as fried pie

Cake or pie? That’s a question often posed, with much weight attached to the answer. For me, the choice is simple: I’ll take the pie.

I don’t know what this says about me exactly, but I do come from a pie-eating family, which might hold some sway over my decision. Likewise, I have more of a salt tooth than a sweet tooth, and the flaky, tender, slightly salty crust has always been my favorite part of a pie, so much that you could bake me pie-crust scraps and sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon on them and I’d think that was the best treat ever.

This isn’t to say that I don’t love cake because I do. But if someone was offering a portable dessert, such as the choice between cupcakes or fried pies, it would be no contest. Much to my chagrin, however, fried pies are nowhere near as ubiquitous as cupcakes. Matter of fact, I have a hard time finding them anywhere except at fast-food places, and what they offer is not even close to the glory of a fried pie made with two hands, a fresh filling and love.

Fried pies are a longstanding tradition in Texas, found at fairs, cook-outs, restaurants, bakeries, and, of course, in home kitchens. They are a terrific dessert for big picnics and other outdoor feasts because they’re portable, don’t melt and taste just as good either hot or cold. And they are very warm-weather friendly. If it’s oppressively hot outside, wouldn’t you rather stand over a skillet for a few quick minutes than be subjected to an oven's overheated wrath for one very long hour? That’s what I thought.

At the market on Saturday, I saw the first of the season’s blueberries—blue orbs that popped with a tart, sweet juice. They were going fast, so I grabbed a few pints. After gorging myself on about a hundred berries, I decided that perhaps I should take advantage of their being fresh and make some fried pies.

You can use frozen blueberries in some things, such as muffins, smoothies or cakes, but I think that when you’re making a pie filling you want them to be as fresh as possible so each bite will have that snap and wholeness that frozen berries seem to lack. I also like to add a bit of lemon zest and cinnamon to my filling, but it’s the berries that are the real stars.

But of course, you can’t have a fried pie without a proper pastry to contain the filling. A few weeks ago I rendered leaf lard, which is the best kind of lard for pastry, and I had enough left over to make a crust. It doesn’t get more basic than flour, salt, water and lard. And if you have never worked with a pie crust made with lard, well let me tell you—it is the easiest, smoothest thing ever to roll. No struggle and no crumble—the only reason mine wasn’t perfect was because I still haven’t mastered the art of rolling out pies. The good thing is, however, is that nobody sees your mistakes when you make fried pies. You cut out circles for the individual pastries—and these can be as neat and tidy as you like.

The best thing about a lard-based crust is that it’s strong yet flaky. And while sometimes I have problems with my fried pies leaking, these stayed sealed with nary a blueberry to be seen until after my first bite. And oh, what a bite! I sprinkled some powdered sugar on my pie (though that’s not necessary) and it was sweet, salty and crisp with the berries round and full. It was a true summertime taste. I don’t think this batch will last until the weekend, so I plan to make some more for the Fourth of July. And of course, there are now apricots, cherries and raspberries to fill my fried pies with as well. I can’t wait!

What are you making for the Fourth of July?

Blueberry Fried Pies
For the crust:
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of lard, chilled
1/4 cup of cold water

For the filling:
2 cups of blueberries
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of water

1. Mix together the flour and salt.
2. Add the lard, either with a fork, your hands or a pastry cutter.
3. When the flour is clumped together, slowly add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the dough is moist enough to come together.
4. Form the dough into ball.
5. Wrap and place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
6. Meanwhile, mix all the filling ingredients in a pan, bring to a boil and cook for about two or three minutes.
7. To make the fried pies, roll out the chilled pie crust until it’s no more than a 1/4 of an inch thick. (I like to roll it out into a rectangle-type shape.)
8. Cut out 12 five-inch diameter circles (I use a saucer as a guide). Any scraps that are left over you can roll out again and cut out more circles.
9. To make each pie, place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each crust. Moisten the edges and fold the crust over, sealing the edges with your fingers and then by pressing down on the edge with a fork.
10. In a cast-iron skillet, heat an inch of oil (or lard or shortening) to 350 degrees.
11. With a spatula, gently place each pie into the hot oil, and turn over after a minute. Cook on the other side for another minute, and then drain on a rack or paper-towel lined plate. You can sprinkle powdered sugar and/or cinnamon over pies if you like.
Makes 10-12 fried pies

Not interested in fried pies? Here are some other recipes that would be fabulous on the Fourth:

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angelica said...

I love pie, and fried pie sounds delicious! I must try it!

Jen said...

I am also a transplanted Texan (Ft. Worth) living in Brooklyn, and though my fried pies were always the Mrs.Bairds variety, I too am disappointed at the lack availability of these tasty treats! I picked up some blueberries this weekend at the market and am excited to give this recipe a try.

Incidentally, I only found your blog yesterday, and was like a kid in a candy shop with your recipes and blog postings. I felt at home again. Thank you!

Snarkmeister said...

Baking soda? It's mentioned in step 1 but how much to use? It's not in the ingredients list. :(

Other than that, these sound super-simple and I will definitely be making them soon with local fruit from the farmer's market.

Homesick Texan said...

Angelica--If you love pie you'll definitely love fried pie.

Jen--Ah, I used to eat Mrs. Baird's fried pies every day at school. They weren't as good as others but they were still pretty darn tasty. And welcome--glad you had fun reading through the archives.

Snarkmeister--Doh! Thanks for the catch. I took out the baking soda because it tasted weird, but forgot to change that in the directions.

Ashley said...

These look so amazing. All the fried concoctions are what I look forward to most every year at the Texas State Fair. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

jennifer said...

I love fried pies! We used to get fried pies from Mindy Lu's pretty regularly, but the best was when I could talk my mother-in-law into making up a batch of chocolate pies. She never used that awful, sweet, pudding-like filling. She just did a simple chocolate, not too sweet, not over-stuffed - just enough to give some flavor to the pie dough. Yum! I think I have to call her now.

Kristofer said...

Honestly, is there anything on your blog that isn't just fantastic? I get giddy when I see that bold (1) on my RSS feed telling me you've decided to grace us with another hometown treat. A+

AT said...

Aw man, you did NOT just show me fried pie in the afternoon - now I WANT one!! Where's the best in Austin? Any ideas? Because I am definitely not skilled (or patient enough) to make one.

Since I'll be at my dad's place in Louisiana, my step-mom will probably be doing all the 4th cooking. And that is a very very good thing.

Homesick Texan said...

Ashley--I know--they have quite a spread there each year.

Jennifer--I agree, too sweet fillings are just cloying and especially with chocolate really take away from the flavor.

Kristofer--Awww, aren't you sweet--thank you!

AT--How about Jo's?

Half Baked said...

Fried. Pie. no need to say more. I want one:)

KELLY said...

OMG, I am going home tonight to make these babies....lol

For the 4th of July...we are having Grilled Fajitas...served, of course, with Mexican Rice and Pappasito's Pinto Beans! :)

Oh yeah, and fried pies for dessert!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

We didn't have fried blueberry pies when I was growing up, but summer wasn't complete without my mom's traditional two-crust blueberry pie. So I'm with you -- pie over cake any day. Unless it's double chocolate cake with chocolate mousse layering. Then I may have switch my allegiance.

nika said...

Simply resplendent! It is your fault we will be gaining 20 lbs over the next few days as I dive into a fried pie making frenzy!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

There are lots of ways that the world divides: chocolate/vanilla, salt/sugar, chili with beans/chili with no beans. Now I'll add to the list cake/pie. But fried pies? That's new to me!

Bee said...

Well, it's not fried blueberry pie, but my daughter did want Key Lime Pie for her recent birthday. Perhaps birthday pie should be a new tradition.

As for July 4, I've got to have peach cobbler and homemade vanilla ice cream. I will also be making fried chicken -- an-only-on-the-4th event for me. I will check out your recipe for sure!

I don't fry much, but I may have to make an exception for these.

Chris said...

When I was a kid, my grandmother would harvest her peaches in the summer and dry them in the sun on clean bedsheets, then in the winter, she would stew the dried peaches and make filling, then make the most delicious fried peach pies! I hadn't thought about that in years.

Kevin said...

Those look good!

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Grandma used to make fried peach pies and I never could find her recipe so I'm glad to find yours. Thanks!

Paula said...

My hubby would love something like this! By the way, I made your Mexican rice tonight ... oh, it was so splendid! Yum!

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Mmmm! I've not had fried blueberry pie but I must try it :-) I'm making pulled brisket sandwiches, cucumber salad, and brownies.

Mike said...

Now that looks incredible !!

Need to grab some Nacogdoches blueberries and I'll be in bid'ness!!

Amy C Evans said...

geez, you're killing me! i'm crazy for pie, but a fried pie? c'mon! had a killer coconut custard pie in tennessee a few weeks ago: Made in Mississippi and now i'm gonna have to make some. thanks for the recipe--and the craving! cheers from mississippi, amy

Tina said...

Fried Pies a must have. OMGOODNESS I am definitly making these. My husband just asked for these awhile back and i have been on the hunt for a tried and true recipe. Keep up the great recipes. I'm a Texas girl myself just on the outskirts of Dallas.

Margaret said...

Oh wow. Fried pies mean my grandmother. She made apple, from dried apples, because Texas didn't have blueberries in grocery stores back then and she couldn't have afforded them anyway. She would stand there frying them in her cast iron skillet. I can see her now, and that was 50 years ago.

Brave Sir Robin said...


My Mom wasn't a great cook, but she did a few things very, very well.

Apricot fried pies was my favorite thing she did.

I know she used dried apricots, but I don't have her crust recipe.

I will try this for the holiday and report back.

btw - I made rice your way last night and it was great. The boys liked it better than my way. I still like mine, but your was great.

Lisa said...

Cake, if it's chocolate, but with summer's luscious fruits you just can't beat a pie. Your fried pies sound delicious!

Meeta said...

fried pies? wow now that is decadent. oh i am in sin city!

ken said...

no way, I made blueberry fried pies today too! I think yours are more photogenic, but they didn't care, they made for a delicious breakfast,......and midday snack...:) I agree fried pies are the best.

Tom said...

I think you have Alabamians in your family somewhere. My Mother is stringing together a book of her Mother's recipes and we've been discussing fried pies. The the crust most often used was leftover biscuit dough. Often she would make enough for both biscuits and fried pies. The fillings were often preserves or fruit that she canned so pies could be made year round. We never could get enough of them, especially my Grandfather who claimed they were the best thing on Earth. Nice post!!

Steve in Huntspatch said...

Oh man... Fried pies! About 30 years ago I was on a short road trip from Huntsville, AL up to Fayetteville, TN.

We stopped at a hole in the wall barbeque joint for a couple of pork sandwiches. An old black woman who worked there was just filling a wicker basket with a batch of chocolate filled fried pies she had made.

We picked up a couple to take with us for dessert. Freaking awesome! Slightly crunchy on the outside, rich and chocolaty (but not too sweet) on the inside. And still warm when we ate them.

I'm going to have to try your recipe... any chance you've got a recipe for chocolate filling?

MusikMom said...

You know, I was just tempted recently to place an order with August Pies in good 'ol Lubbock, Texas. Went to the website and it's down!
My favorites are the pineapple, cherry, and apple. Just pop one of those babies in the micro for 30 secs and serve with vanilla bean ice cream. YUM!
Now I have no choice but to try your recipe. Your stuff is ALWAYS primo!

Thanks for sharing!

Becci said...

Mmmmm...after reading some of the comments above, my mother is originally from Alabama and she makes the best fried pies. We had a little fried pie shop in my hometown that actually packaged the pies and delivered them to stores within a 60 miles radius. They were so good...they went out of business about two years ago and I almost cried when I couldn't get my Woodie Fried Pie...
Can't wait to try your recipe. Thanks!

ann said...

Oh sweet pie gods, those sound awesome, like sweet Cornish pasties. I've only ever had fried pies from McD's sadly. Looks like I better get my act together because I vastly prefer pies to cake too, and who doesn't love portable pie?

Pamela said...

Oh, your post made me think of my dad, who passed away 5 years ago this September. He loved apricot fried pies better than anything! When we would go on road trips and stop for a snack, he would always bring back a fried pie for himself, a cream soda, and peanut patty (those awful pink confections with peanuts in them). My brother always picked the cherry fried pies. I thought they were made by Rainbow, but maybe they were Mrs. Bairds.

Sometimes, ladies from the church would bring homemade fried pies to our house (he was a minister) because they knew how much he loved them.

Thanks for bringing back a wonderful memory!


Cheryl said...

That looks insanely good! I wonder if it would work with Strawberries?

kkryno said...

Fried blueberry pie. What could be better?! May I say that your food pic are phenominal?! Your recipies are to drool over as well.

Jerry said...

Oh sounds delicious! I picked blueberries the other day and I might just go ahead and try this recipe (hopefully I don't burn down the apartment building!)

Cynthia said...

Fried pie, why am I not surprise? :)

Sarita Leone said...

I tried your Peanut Brittle and loved it! That's the treat I made for our 4th of July celebration, along with star-topped cupcakes. Both were a big hit!

Love your blog. Wonderful photos, great "conversation" and excellent recipes...what more could anyone want? :)

Ashley said...

I used to be a "homesick Texan" in NYC but have now moved back to Houston (my desire for tex-mex got the best of me - ha ha!). I feel your pain though! The food just wasn't what we are used to down here. Your fried blueberry pie looks delicious. I made homemade apple dumplings for the 4th but I want to try your recipe soon!

Justin Fox Burks said...

Beautiful photos and wonderful recipes. my grandma used to make fried pies. there was nothing better than being sent home from mamaw's house with a oil-spotted paper sack full of fried pies. chocolate, peach, cherry....ummmm!

Olivia said...

So many Texans in NYC! All my Texan tastes are so pronounced now, too. It's good that I can find enough tasty things to keep me going, more so I mean than London...

I would love fried pie with apples (not into cooked berries), and cream on the side.

Pesky Settler said...

As someone who eats strictly Kosher, lard is out of the question. What do you recommend as a suitable alternative?

Nicole said...

OMGOODNESS, those look so good. I am going to try this weekend--I'll let you know how they turn out. Maybe you would have an idea as to why the cherry pie I made on the 4th was icky? (see my post "Let Freedom Ring [while eating an icky pie])
Just found your blog and love it - added to my blog roll today.
Sending Texas-sized hugs!

Homesick Texan said...

Half-Baked--One? Heck, I could eat at least two!

Kelly--What an excellent meal!

Susan--Should you feel torn in your allegiance, I have the perfect compromise--chocolate pie.

Nika--I'll gladly take the blame. Heck, I've gained at least 20 myself!

Lydia--See what y'all have been missing on the East Coast? Imagine a world without fried pies.

Bee--I'm a big fan of peach cobbler myself. Peaches aren't in season here yet, but you bet I'll be making some as soon as they arrive.

Chris--My grandmother either cans or freezes her peaches, but I might have to dry the drying method this summer.


TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy--You've very welcome.

Paula--Glad y'all enjoyed the rice!

Just A Plane Ride Away--I love cucumber salad in the summer--it's so refreshing!

Mike--Is Nacogdoches known for its blueberries? I did not know this!

Amy C Evans--Love the packaging! And that's the next thing I need to figure out--how to make a splendid coconut custard pie.

Tina--Hope it works for you!

Margaret--Yep, the only way to make them is in a cast iron skillet. What a wonderful memory!

Brave Sir Robin--Apricot is another excellent fried pie filling. And glad your boys liked the rice. Are they a tough crowd?

Lisa--I agree--I think of pie as more of a summer thing probably because of the bounty of delicious fruit fillings.

Meeta--Oh so decadent but oh so good!

Ken--No way! And yep, they're good anytime of day!

Tom--I'm not aware of any family from Alabama--before Texas we were in Tennessee and Virginia, though fried pies are pretty common all over the south. And I love the idea of using old biscuit dough--I'll have to try that!

Steve--I have been bugging my grandmother for her chocolate pie recipe for ever--hopefully she'll share it with me soon.

MusikMom--You're very welcome. And that's a shame that August Pies went out of business. Is there no longer a demand for fried pies?

Becci--I'm sorry to hear the fried pie shop in your hometown went out of business. Someone needs to start a movement to return fried pies into vogue!

Ann--McD's? There's no comparison!

Pamela--Thanks for sharing your wonderful story! I'd forgotten about those peanut patties, but perhaps I need to find a recipe...

Cheryl--Yep, I don't see why they wouldn't work with strawberries.

kkryno--Thank you!

Jerry--Ha! Be careful!

Cynthia--Yep, you know me and my fats!

Sarita Lenoe--Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the peanut brittle.

Ashley--Smart move! And I adore apple dumplings!

Justin Fox Burks--It's interesting how many people say their grandmother's made fried pies but not their mothers. I think we need to bring back the fried pie!

Olivia--There are quite a few of us here, yes. And fried apple pies are just as delicious.

Pesky Settler--You could use butter or shortening.

Nicole--Welcome and enjoy! I don't know why the pie tasted so bad--maybe it was too much vanilla and arrowroot. I usually use corn starch or flour.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Beautiful fried pies!

~Madeline~ said...

I'm so with you on the pie thing. I made some fried cherry pies the other week. I really love blueberries and lemon together so I can't wait to try this recipe.

Mindy said...

It's wonderful to see there are so many fried pie lovers out there. My family has been making fried pies since'72, now sold in 9 southern states. Nothing like a hot chocolate pie right out the fryer with Blue Bell ice cream. Mindy Lu's pies are the best pies in Texas!

maryanndipity said...

Hi, I came across your blog today and I love it! I am a Texan currently living in the Middle East. I grew up eating Mrs. Baird's fried pies and everytime my friend comes back home from San Antonio I tell her to bring me fried pies but the last trip she had a hard time finding them because the Mrs. Bairds bread stores seem to be closed. Anyway, I have been looking for a fried pie recipe and I am glad I found yours. Thank you so much for sharing.

Kerri said...

Being a New Orleanian, I'm not familiar with Texas fried pies, but I grew up eating Hubig's Pies. You have a choice between a baked pie (a small version of regular pie, it even had its own little aluminum pie plate--haven't had one in a really long time, so I don't know if it still has the plate) and a fried pie. There's coconut, apple, blackberry, lemon, peach, chocolate, and I can't remember all the others, but they are quite tasty! I don't spend a whole lot of fun time on the computer, but I found your blog by way of a friend's blog, which explains why I'm posting a comment on something so dated!

Anonymous said...

You are killing me! Fried pies! My mom used to make these with peaches (we had peach trees). I love fried pies & you are so right-no fast food pie has even a hint of the flavor of a homemade Texas fried pie. You are wonderful. I know that with your recipe my fried pies will be sensational & better than even my sister's! (very difficult to top my sister's cooking ;-)


Martha said...

Martha from SFA! I've been staying with my aunt for a few weeks recovering from surgery, and we were talking about trying to recreate her mother's fried apricot pies. She couldn't remember if the dough was more like a pie or more like a biscuit. When I started searching online, your blog came up! The picture made my mouth drool! So, anyway, your recipe sounds more biscuit-y. Did you try it both ways? Any thoughts? And if you didn't use lard, I'm guessing shortening would be the next best option? We need to talk about AMP soon--give me a ring! In the meanwhile, I've gotta try your recipe--I think I'm going to substitute some leftover candied ginger for the cinnamon. Either way, I can't wait!!!

Anonymous said...

I am going to try to make fried apple pies. I am not a crust maker. Hope it turns out but bet I can find someone to eat them. I am going to try chocolate next my sis has been wanting to try some so we will be busy frying. Thanks Irma

John said...

In junior high, my best friend's mom made fried apple pies that I would beg her to make for me. We moved at the end of junior high and I haven't had a fried pie since. Thanks for reminding me and providing a recipe!

John G.

Anonymous said...

My husband's granny makes the best fried apple pies (she won't give me the recipe). They're so good, I had her make me a big bunch for Christmas last year. But I'm gonna have to try these blueberry pies. Thanks. =)

PT said...

August's Pies aren't out of business, they just don't have an internet presence for some reason. If you're anywhere near Lubbock, TX, you'll see them in virtually every convenience and grocery store. And yes they are wonderful! Try the chocolate!

irenesnoir said...

Oh Boy! I wrote to my email friend who is from Massachusetts, and now lives in northern California that I (from Miami, Florida),who now lives in Texas was really looking for a good recipe for fried apple pies.. like my grandmother and Mother (from Georgia) used to make. So, by the magic of the internet I have a wonderful recipe that I can easily convert to apple, and the darn thing flew all over the country to get to me! Thank you, Homesick Texan! Irene in Maud, Texas

Roxanne said...

I just found your blog and I'm so excited!
It's simply beautiful! I'm a pie girl too! As a child I begged
my grandmother to make me a pie with crust only :) years ago when I was in college, I spent a week at my grandmother's, learning the art of pie making.

I've lived in Texas all my life and have many fried pie memories. Recently, I was given an 'old timey' fried pie dough recipe which was excuse enough! I picked and froze apricots last summer and stewed them with a little sugar for the filling. I did not have any good lard so I used
Crisco. I'm happy to say they were delicious! I stored them uncovered on a plate in the fridge and the crust remained
Crisp for days! I shared the recipe on www.coachetteskitchen.blogspot.com/

You've inspired me to make them again.
What is leaf lard?

Your blog is my new favorite! I can hardly wait to dive
Into the archives and read your story.

Easter blessings!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Hi Roxanne--Hope you enjoy the fried pies! Leaf lard is lard that comes from the stomach of a pig (instead of the back, which is where regular lard comes from). It's more delicate so it's better for pastries. However, you can substitute shortening if you prefer.

JadedSidhe said...

I just found your site and it brings back a lot of memories. My aunt made fried pies, which she called 'field pies'. They were usually apple or peach, but my favorite was chocolate.

It was essentially chocolate and sugar, two of my favorite food groups.

masdevallia said...

Well, your wish came true. Or perhaps pies just had to wait their turn to find the spotlight. Cupcakes are dancing out and hand pies are waltzing in. It's a beautiful time for those of us that love the crust. ;)

Terri said...

Now, I need a fried pie! I'm currently in Ft. Worth, and love the fried pies from Gainesville, TX. It looks like a road trip is in my future!

Joyce Insun Kong said...

I'm a homesick Texan in Korea. It's impossible to find the ingredients you'd need to do most of the recipes on your site, but I love browsing anyway. I'm going to try these blueberry pies today, but use thawed frozen strawberries (blueberries are a million dollars here) and butter instead of lard (no lard in Korea). I hope it works out! I'm going to post the results on my blog, Knifing Forking Spooning.

Anonymous said...

Just returned to Boston from a visit out to Dallas to see my boyfriend there. He's determined to move here and open a Fried Pie franchise. I LOVE, LOVE LOVE the cherry fried pies!!!!! Gotta have them in steady supply here in Boston :-)

Melissa said...

I have never made pie crust before. I followed the recipe, but when I went to form the dough into a ball it was so crumbly and kept falling apart. I tried to trust it, chilled it, tried to roll it out but it just crumbled to pieces. So I trashed it and tried again today leaving larger balls of lard in the flour and adding twice as much water based on google searches of what could possibly be wrong. But I just wanted to check with you if it's supposed to be falling apart like that and if I should persevere next time. Even with the extra water it's still really hard to form into a ball and was quite lumpy and cracked.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Melissa--The crust can be a little crumbly but it does come together. To make another, instead of using chilled lard, let it come to room temperature and see if that helps. It also sounds like there's too much flour--do you have a scale? You need 250grams of flour and 113 grams of lard. With the crust that you have, bring it to room temperature and see if you can get it to come together. Add water, a tablespoon at a time until it does. Hope this helps!

Redhen1942@bellsouth.net said...

Do you use self-rising or plain flour?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Redhen--I use plain, all-purpose flour.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when I could make myself sick stuffing myself with Bruces lemon fried pies. I really miss those. When I worked at Ft. Fisher Park in Waco the Campbell family had a small snack bar/restaurant there and would get Bruces pies still soft, warm, and fresh. Have to stop now, my keyboard has drool on it.

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