(L to R) Maire O'Brien (bagpiper), Rachel MacRitchie (judge), Leather Storrs (judge), Bob Moore, Merry Graham, Matthew Cox, Kim Sunee (judge)

Spar for the Spurtle Recap and Winner

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

My apologizes for the delay in announcing our Spar for the Spurtle winner. It’s taken me a few days to organize my thoughts enough to share with you. The event was a resounding success and just about the most fun I’ve ever had at work (with the actual Golden Spurtle winning out). Here’s the deal- it’s hard to recap the whole thing and give you those little details that really made the day. At the end of this post, head over and check out all of our photos. The images convey much more than I can fit into a simple blog post. Props to our very own Julie Garner for the beautiful photography!

On Friday I awoke with the familiar butterflies that signal a day much anticipated. I didn’t have to compete, but was I ever excited about the shindig and also a wee bit nervous about all of the details (would the bagpiper show up on time? would the burners work? would the judges find the store ok?).

Our three contenders kicked off the day with a personal tour with Bob, something few people get to experience and no one ever forgets. I can tell you about our mill history until I’m blue in the face, but it doesn’t compare to hearing the words from Bob himself.  I think they all left a little star struck. I hope it didn’t affect their kitchen skills too much!

The Spar for the Spurtle competition kicked off at 2 pm at our Whole Grain Store and Visitors Center on Friday, August 26th with a beautiful bagpipe procession lead by Maire O’Brien. Matthew Cox, our former World Porridge Champion, and Bob welcomed the relatively small crowd of friends and family that had gathered to watch the festivities.

Celebrity judges Rachel MacRitchie, Leather Storrs and Kim Sunée waited with eager appetites to try these dishes for themselves while our three contenders got every last detail settled before Matthew started the clock. Each contestant had 30 minutes to create their dish from start to finish, making timing the key ingredient to success.

Rachel MacRitchie, Leather Storrs and Kim Sunée

Naturally, the burners that worked fine an hour before the competition were finicky and not holding even temperatures, so we had a few minutes of head scratching and tapping on the burners to get them started again. It’s so hard with this kind of thing. On the one hand, we don’t want any of our contestants to have an unfair advantage. On the other hand, this kind of thing did happen at the real Golden Spurtle and no one was going around handing out extra minutes there.  BUT, since we are stateside, we made up our own rules and got all the burners started prior to starting the clock. That didn’t keep them from hiccuping during the competition, but at some point, you’ve done all you can do.

My memory is a little blurry, but I believe Jim Schafer was done first with his Nutty Coconut Oatmeal and had the advantage (or disadvantage depending on your perspective) to serve first. What I really liked about Jim’s dish beyond the obvious (read: peanut butter and oatmeal) was that he really took to heart each ingredient. He made his own butter folks. You can’t say that about someone very often. He also made his own almond milk and put a lot of thought into which kind of peanuts and peanut butter he used in his recipe. Additionally, he broke plating tradition and served each judge a unique bowl to demonstrate the versatility of his dish. I was impressed.

Nutty Coconut Oatmeal

Rachel was next up with her Gingerbread Oatmeal with fresh custard. I think Rachel deserves a little bonus point for the sheer simplicity of her dish. It was very traditional porridge with gingerbread spices, molasses and fresh custard. Where Jim went elaborate with ingredients, Rachel went simple. To top it off, she had baked tiny gingerbread heart cookies to place on her dish. Double points for cuteness!

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Merry served her Black Bean Porridge Patties last. Of all the recipes that were entered in our competition, this is one that really intrigued me. I love the concept of a breakfast food being used in a new (and savory!) way. Her patties were just so perfect and her pico de gallo looked simple and tasty.

Black Bean Porridge Patties

After the judges had tasted all three dishes, they left and kept us waiting for what felt like forever. They came back and handed Bob the result. He happily announced that Merry Graham was our Spar for the Spurtle winner and would be joining our team in Scotland this October to compete in the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship. Merry was very excited and simply beaming.

(L to R) Maire O'Brien, Rachel MacRitchie, Leather Storrs, Bob Moore, Merry Graham, Matthew Cox, Kim Sunée

The judges told us they had a very hard time choosing, but ultimately chose her dish for its  taste, creativity, and overall presentation. I was so glad it wasn’t up to me. I think we’d still be there tasting and discussing!

What happens next? Matthew and Merry will train over the phone and work together to get her ready for the Golden Spurtle on October 9th. Merry will be working to get her recipe down to a single burner and learning the ins and outs of making a perfect pot of porridge—all under 30 minutes. We’ll keep you posted on her progress and update you when the competition gets closer.

In the meantime, check out the photos and videos. I’ll be working to get Merry’s recipe along with all of the other amazing recipes that were submitted up here and on our website and will keep you up to date when new recipes are added.

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Spar for the Spurtle: Game on!

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

It’s hard to believe, but this coming Friday is the day our Spar for the Spurtle finalists will throw down to see who will represent Bob’s Red Mill in the 2011 Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships.

If you’re around, come on out and join the fun. Here are the stats:

  • Where: Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store
    • 5000 SE International Way, Milwaukie, OR 97222
  • When: Friday August 26th, 2011 at 2:00 pm, though we recommend showing up a bit early to get a good spot to watch.
  • What to expect: we’ll have bagpipers making it merry and our finalists will recreate their dishes for our three celebrity judges. The finalists will have to follow the same rules as those in the Golden Spurtle. They’ll have 30 minutes and two butane burners to create their dishes. Our judges will pick the grand prize winner before 3 pm.

Our finalists:

Merry Graham with Black Bean Porridge Patties

Jim Schafer with Nutty Coconut Oatmeal

Rachel Kimbrow with Gingerbread Oatmeal (note: sometimes the sound on this video doesn’t work properly- we’re not sure why, but if it doesn’t work, try refreshing your screen.)

Our celebrity judges:

Leather Storrs – Chef, Noble Rot (and winner on Food Network’s Extreme Chefs)

Kim Sunee – Food & Wine Editor, Organic Gardening (plus former judge on Iron Chef America & author of Trail of Crumbs)

Rachel MacRitchie — Scottish native, wife of the honorary British Consul in Oregon & member (and honorary president) of Daughters of the British Empire in Oregon

Come on out and join the fun! RSVP for kicks on our Facebook event.

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Spar for the Spurtle: The Big Reveal

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Alright, without further ado:

The finalists who will compete in Bob’s Red Mill’s Ultimate Oatmeal Throwdown are:

The three finalists were chosen from the nearly 50 home cooks and professional chefs who submitted video recipes that featured Steel Cut Oats. I know the judges had a very hard time making a decision and spent a few hours watching the videos over and over again looking for just the right dish and the right personality. And no, I was (thankfully) not one of the judges. You guys know me- I would have flown out all 50 entrants and met them all face to face… then where would we be?

Now, the finalists will be flown to Portland where they will compete in a live cook-off on Friday, August 26. The finalists will prepare their recipes from scratch in front of an audience at Bob’s Red Mill’s Whole Grain Store. The grand-prize winner will be selected by a panel of celebrity judges (we’ll tell you who soon) and will travel to Scotland to compete in the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship.

So how did the judges select the winners? I know some folks will be wondering why the video with the most votes didn’t win. This is what I have heard from the judges themselves.

A variety of criteria was used to select the finalists, including site visitors’ votes, use of Steel Cut Oats as a featured ingredient, ability to appeal to the Scottish judges’ taste-palates and whether the recipes could be prepared in the competition’s allotted 30-minute time frame. On top of that, they took into account how the person handled themselves. It’s a lot of pressure to be under during the Golden Spurtle- you have cameras and microphones in your face during your 30 minutes.

Congratulations to the finalists! I cannot wait to see these dishes being created! We will be working to get all of the recipes from all of the videos on our website soon, there are so many delicious uses for steel cut oats (again, see why I’m not a judge??)!  In the meantime, check out the winning videos and the rest of the great entries at www.sparforthespurtle.com.

I will also be posting more info about the Portland cook-off in the next few days so you can come out, if you’re around and watch the fun for yourself.




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Spar for the Spurtle Update & Voting (Giveaway)

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Submissions for Spar for the Spurtle have been rolling in all week. We can hardly believe how many we’ve gotten and how many are superb! I’m having my usual problem of wanting to award prizes to everyone. I never thought I would be that person- the one who wants to give a ribbon to every kid who participates, but I am and I do! I just think everyone really put forth a good effort and deserves some superior recognition.

First things first: SUBMISSION DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 11:59 PM ON 08/07! That means, if you haven’t had a chance to do so, but still want to enter- you can.

I’ve talked to a bunch of you individually, but I want to address some of the common concerns here:

1. I’m camera shy: I would guess this applies to a lot of us. Even with a photographer husband, I don’t like my photo taken any more than the next gal and I absolutely loathe being in videos. Here is how one person very cleverly made a video without showing themselves.

2. I don’t own a video camera: True, not all of us have smart phones and digital cameras with video capabilities. I bet you know someone who does though. Again, check out the above video. This one doesn’t even use video- but makes a video out of stills. Additionally, it doesn’t have to be fancy. We just want to see that you do indeed have a recipe.

3. What can be done ahead versus needs to be done during the 30 minutes? Basically, a lot can be done ahead. Truly, the main thing that cannot be done ahead is the actual cooking of oats. They can, however, be soaked overnight prior to the competition. You can heat liquids to boiling, prep all additional ingredients and walk into the competition ready to assemble everything but the oats.

4. Can I use additional appliances? No, you get two hot burners and that’s it. We know a few of the videos use an oven and those were created prior to the realization that we hadn’t explicitly put it in the rules that you cannot use anything additional. While the rules for the Golden Spurtle do not say you cannot use additional appliances, we’ve learned from experience that they do not like it and you may be disqualified. On top of that, we learned the hard way last year that American appliances don’t work so great in Europe- even with electrical converters.


The bit that takes very little effort on your part. We need help picking some winners for the Portland heat. Here’s what you do: Visit http://www.sparforthespurtle.com/watch.php and select videos to watch. Then, if you like it- click on “like.” You can vote for as many as you want. Winners are not solely based on the amount of “likes” a video gets, but it’s definitely going to be taken into account.

To help induce you to vote, I’m giving away three spurtle kits (steel cut oats + a spurtle). To be entered all you need to do is go vote and come back here and post in the comments that you voted and who you voted for. You don’t have to list them all, but list at least one. I’ll pick 3 winners from all who comment by 11:59 pm on Sunday, July 31st.

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Spar for the Spurtle

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Yes, it’s that time of year again—Golden Spurtle time! This year is vastly different from previous years, however. Instead of sending our trusty champion, Matthew Cox, we would like to send one of you! Yes, YOU! Today kicks off our month-long competition to find the best of the best to represent us in Scotland this year.

We’d like to invite you, whether you’re a home cook or professional chef, to submit a video demonstrating a unique recipe that makes use of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats – the World’s Best Oats. From the entries, three finalists will be flown here to Portland, Oregon to compete in a live cook-off. The winner of that cook-off will travel with the Bob’s Red Mill team to compete in the 18th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship in Scotland.

To enter the Spar for the Spurtle contest, interested cooks should visit www.SparForTheSpurtle.com to submit a video demonstration of an original recipe that makes use of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats. Videos should be no longer than three minutes and should demonstrate a creative use of the oats. Dishes can be sweet or savory – they just need to be able to be created from start to finish within 30 minutes.

The videos will be posted on www.SparForTheSpurtle.com where fans will be able to vote for their favorites. The top three contestants will be selected as the finalists to be flown to Portland for the live cook-off. Finalists will also receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bob’s Red Mill facility led by Bob Moore himself.

During the live 30-minute cook-off, the three finalists will prepare their oatmeal recipes from scratch for a panel of celebrity judges in conditions that mirror those of the Golden Spurtle competition. The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Scotland, including $2,500 in cash, to compete in the 18th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship!

Sounds pretty fun, doesn’t it? Need ideas? Head over to GoldenSpurtle.com to see past entries and former winners.

10 Tips for Making Home Videos Look Professional
Tips for Capturing Great Video Footage

You have until July 30th to enter.

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Lifestyles of the Rich and Christen: Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins (GF/CF)

by Guest in Featured Articles, Recipes

With kids underfoot, finding recipes that are easy and delicious can seem like a daunting task. Throw in making it gluten and dairy free: mission impossible. Especially for breakfast. Right?

Enter the muffin. Oh a glorious warm muffin filled with fresh berries. It’s like having dessert first thing in the morning. The great thing is you don’t have to feel guilty for serving these mini bites of heaven to your kids. They’ll love them and you’ll love how easy and good for them they are.

Hungry for more? Visit me at Lifestyles of the Rich & Christen and search for other gluten-free recipes!

Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins

  • 1/2 cup Vegan Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Agave Nectar
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed
  • 6 Tbsp warm Water
  • 1/4 cup Orange or Berry Juice
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cup Bob’s Gluten-free All purpose Baking Flour
  • 2/3 cup Cornmeal
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Blackberries (or berry of choice)
  • Cinnamon for dusting

Pre-heat oven to 375. Beat the butter with the agave in a large bowl until light and fluffy. In a small bowl mix flax meal and warm water and allow to sit for a minute. Beat flax mix, juice and vanilla with butter mix. In a separate bowl mix the flour, corn meal and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just blended. Fold in berries. Lightly grease muffin cups or use liners. Fill about two-thirds full. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Enjoy!

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A perfect protein-packed snack!

Guest Post: Miss Fitbliss: Protein-Packed Crackers

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Recipes

A perfect protein-packed snack!

When we first saw this recipe at Miss FitBliss, we knew you would love it. Here Joslyn gives you a quick guest post and link to the recipe. Enjoy!

I can be an extremely selfless person, even to my own detriment.  I’m the first one to come sprinting out of nowhere to fall on the sword for a complete stranger, and the last one in line at a buffet – just to make sure that everyone gets their fill before me.  It’s instinctual, it’s inexplicable, it’s annoying.  When I looked around my kitchen last week, I realized that the majority of the food that I make and prepare daily is for my husband.  Much of this habit is due to the fact that it’s a lot more fun to prepare juicy lasagnas, cheesecakes, and muffins than it is to prepare a salad.

But when this realization hit me, I resolved then and there to start to make small changes toward accommodating myself in the kitchen more often.  These crackers were first in line to accomplish this goal.  They are completely gluten-free and packed with protein from amaranth and almond flours.  And although the baking and prep process was a bit of a challenge, the outcome really made it worth the work.  Here’s the link if you want to give them a try: http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/pizzasflatbreadswraps/r/gfcrackers.htm

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Steel Cut Oats are much larger pieces than Scottish Oats

Steel Cut, Rolled, Instant, Scottish?

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Whole Grains 101

When we think of oatmeal, we typically picture good old-fashioned rolled oats (or maybe quick oats). When you visit the store, especially our store, you find many varieties that may make you wonder what the difference is between them. What makes steel cut different from rolled? What makes instant different than quick? What makes Scottish different than Irish? Here’s a handy little explanation that will *hopefully* clear up any confusion.

Oat Groats:

I just love that groat rhymes with oat! The groat is the de-hulled oat grain. Some grains are called berries, but oats are known as groats. Quite simply, the most intact form of the grain available in the market. Use this version of oats as you would other whole grains. Oat groats are a bit softer than wheat berries and make a wonderful addition to pilafs and soups. We have some wonderful recipes using oat groats, such as this Creamy Mushroom and Grains Soup– a favorite at my house!

The oat groat is the whole oat kernel with the hull removed. Photo borrowed from culinate.com.

Rolled Oats:

The most common form of oats, rolled oats are made from oat groats that have been steamed to allow them to pass through the roller mills without cracking and breaking. Rolled oats are available in many different varieties, each of which refers to the thickness of the flake and cooking time required. The smallest and thinnest oat product is Instant, followed by Quick Cooking, Regular (Old Fashioned) and Extra Thick.

Instant oats have also been pre-cooked to make them truly instant. Just add hot water and you’ll have oatmeal. Most brands add sweeteners to their instant oats, but ours are simple, plain oats.

Most recipes calling for rolled oats are referring to quick cooking or regular, but using extra thick will add an extra chewiness that some find quite appealing.

The most common oat product, rolled oats are flat flakes.

Steel Cut Oats:

Steel Cut= Pinhead= Irish Oats. Steel cut oats are made from whole oat groats that have been chopped into two or three pieces, making for a much chewier cereal. They are almost exclusively used for breakfast, as they do not soften very well in baking applications. These are the oats used in the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship and you will find that they are cooked prior to being used in any recipes. You can find many wonderful recipes on the Golden Spurtle website, as well as our own, using steel cut oats.

What makes steel cut oats particularly attractive for breakfast, and the reason we tout them as the perfect fuel for your day, is how the body breaks them down. Because of their size and shape, the body breaks them down more slowly than rolled oats, preventing spikes in blood sugar and keeping you full longer.

Steel Cut Oats are much larger pieces than Scottish Oats

Scottish Oats:

The true oatmeal, Scottish oats are ground on our stone mills from whole oat groats. They are not rolled, they are not cut, they are ground. The texture of Scottish oatmeal is fairly fine, though more coarsely ground than flour. In the United Kingdom, this is what they imagine when you say oatmeal. In the United States, this is what we imagine when we use the term porridge. It’s creamy, thick and almost instant when combined with boiling water. This is what people would have made hundreds of years ago, before modern roller mills were invented.

Scottish oats are wonderful for baking, as they are truly a more coarsely ground flour- like cornmeal. Oatmeal, cornmeal, flaxseed meal– get it? Meal is the next grind up from flour and below farina. We have some great recipes on our site using Scottish oatmeal, including one of our favorites- Scottish Oatcakes.

Scottish Oatmeal is very finely ground. Photo borrowed from recipetips.com

I hope this has helped answer the question of what makes each variety different. If you’ve still got a question or two, please leave it in the comments and I’ll find you an answer.

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(C) 2010 RecipeRenovator.com ­­

Guest Post: The Recipe Renovator: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Persimmons

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Recipes

(C) 2010 RecipeRenovator.com ­­

This recipe comes from Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator. We just love her blog because she takes ‘sinful’ recipes and turns them into something we can all feel good about eating. She was kind enough to share this amazing recipe for stuffed acorn squash with us and will be contributing more recipes throughout the holiday season. Thanks, Stephanie! Enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Persimmons

Makes 2 main course servings or 4 side servings

  • 1 acorn squash
  • ½ C.  red quinoa or golden quinoa
  • 2 small persimmons (about ¾ C. chopped)
  • ½ C. swiss chard
  • ¼ C. pine nuts
  • ½ C. Daiya dairy-free cheese or parmesan
  • 3 sage leaves ( ¼-½ t. dried sage)
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • ¼ t. chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ t. cumin

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the squash, then slice off each end. Cut in half (it’s a little easier to cut them in half lengthwise, but the finished dish looks more like an acorn if you cut it crosswise as pictured). Scoop out the seeds using a grapefruit spoon. Put the seeds in a small bowl of water.

Place the squash cut-side down in an oiled baking pan. Bake 30-40 minutes until soft. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the quinoa, then add 1 C. water or vegetable broth (add ½ t. miso if using water). Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes on low. Turn off and let sit, then fluff with a fork.

Remove all the stringy bits of the squash from the seeds and rinse them clean. Place in a small saucepan with a cup of filtered water and 2-3 t. of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.

Chop the chard and place in a large bowl. Core the persimmons and chop into about 1/2” dice. Add to the bowl. Mince the sage leaves. Add the pine nuts, cooked quinoa, cheese, spices, and stir to mix.

When the squash is cooked, put the baking pan on your work counter, then flip the squash right-side up. Using a grapefruit spoon and a fork to hold it steady, scoop out the squash flesh, adding it to your filling bowl. Be careful not to poke through the skin. Leave about ½ inch of flesh inside.

Mix the squash evenly into the filling, then pack it into a rounded 1 cup measure and put it into the squash halves. Put the squash seeds in one corner of the pan, adding a small amount of olive oil and some smoked paprika. Stir to coat.

Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted. Top with toasted seeds and a drizzle of garlic olive oil.

This recipe was originally published on The Recipe Renovator.  All rights reserved.

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Matt proudly holds the Golden Spurtle in preparation for the competition.

2010 Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Matt proudly holds the Golden Spurtle in preparation for the competition.

The day of the competition was a beautiful, sunny fall day in the small village of Carrbridge, Scotland. The air was crisp and emotions were high. Matt and I chopped and prepped all of our ingredients and were ready to roll without much anxiety at about half past eleven. The traditional parade began at 11:45 am with Matt proudly holding the Golden Spurtle. A lively band of Scottish pipers and drummers followed behind our champ, leading the way for a rather rowdy bunch of competitors and spectators.

Matt put his best foot forward and made us proud!

Matt competed in the first heat and performed admirably with his porridge and specialty Savory Oat Fritters looking better than ever. Sadly, this was not our day. We did not make it into the second round of the competition and pinned all of our hopes on our fritters. While the judges and the spectators loved our “little oat cakes,” they did not win the Specialty Category. Instead the category was won by our good friend from Calgary, Catherine Caldwell, with her concoction that was named Canadian Cranberry Apple Crunch. I will admit that I did get the lucky privilege of tasting her dish and it was outstanding. Catherine and her husband, John, stayed at the Fairwinds with us last year and are simply the nicest folks and we’re very pleased that she won.

Neil Robertson with the coveted Golden Spurtle- congrats, Neil!

The big winner was Neil Robertson from Auchtermuchty, who won using his own invention, the Spon—a double-sided spoon of sorts. His oats won the hearts of the judges and secured him as the new World Porridge Champion.

Matt, Cassidy and Dennis pose with our lucky Toucans, because "Two can, better than one." Dennis brought these for us from the Guiness Brewery in Ireland. They didn't win us the spurtle this year- but maybe next year.

Now, I know what you’re thinking and let me assure you that our team was a bit disappointed not to win, but we gave it our best shot and we are proud of the work we put in creating our dishes. We’re busy thinking about what next year will be like and very happy for the winners—especially Catherine. Really, it was hard for me not to root for her- she is a sweet woman who may just love porridge more than we do, if that’s possible.

Catherine accepts her award. As soon as I can get my hands on it, I will post her winning recipe.

Congrats Catherine!

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