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Flavouring your ghee with digestive spices makes for a delicious condiment to add to your rice or kitcheri.The fresh turmeric gives the ghee a beautiful deep golden colour. For a stronger flavor, you can increase the quantity of spices.

Ingredients:

1 pound organic cultured unsalted butter

1.5 tsp grated fresh ginger

1.5 tsp grated fresh turmeric

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

In a heavy saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. When it is melted, add the spices. Continue to cook at medium-low heat. The butter will bubble and make bubbling sounds. When it is almost done, milk solids will collect on the bottom of the pan. When it is done (15-20 min), it will look clear and become very quiet.

Quickly, remove it from heat (before burning), and cool slightly. Pour the ghee (the clear golden liquid) though a or cheesecloth into a glass container. Store ghee at room temperature in a screw top glass jar. Never store ghee in plastic!

Delicious on rice or kitcheri!

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Simmering the ghee and spices.

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It was such a warm Indian Summer last year, Munson's Family Farms had plenty of sunny days to cure their squash. The end result was that we didn't get the usual amount of spoilage--and are only now cutting into the bigger squashes. So if you were wondering why I'm making so many squash soups in late spring, that's the answer! This recipe, which I made up on the spot, was quick and easy to make and proved delicious. A perfect choice for an evening when I thought there were going to be two guests for Shabbat--and then suddenly there were five!

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Ingredients

Serves 6

2.5 lb banana squash

3 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

Oive oil for stir frying

1 qt vegetable broth

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp sweet paprika

Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

Flatleaf parsley, chopped

Method

Bake the squash at 400'F. Meanwhile, prepare the tomato, shallot and garlic. Heat olive oil and fry the garlic and shallot until the shallot becomes translucent. Then add the tomatoes and cook until soft. Set aside.

When the squash is baked, let it cool enough to handle. Then remove the seeds and skin. Place the pulp in a soup pot, add vegatable broth and blend either in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender. Bring to the boil. Add the tomato mixture, spice powders, salt and pepper. Let simmer for 15 minutes to combine flavours. Just before serving, garnish with chopped parsley. Delicious!

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The guests enjoyed the soup!

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Here is a delicious quinoa dish that is easy to make and yet special enough for a party! A great vegan and gluten free recipe. Quinoa is a great souce of resistant starch and also free of the arsenic concern that can affect rice. We all enjoyed this dish at gurukula on Friday, as prepared by Chef Ish Baker.

Quinoa Casserole

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 c quinoa
  • ¼ cup dried currants
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 c. celery, chopped small
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • ½ tsp dried ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp rock salt
  • 1 ½ - 1 ¾ cup boiling water
  • Note: Use smaller amount of water for slow cooker or crockpot
  • ¼ c. minced parsley or cilantro
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Soak quinoa 15 minutes to an hour, rinse three times through a fine metal strainer, leave to drain
  2. Heat olive oil on medium in a large saute pan or frying pan
  3. Chop celery in small pieces
  4. Peel and chop carrots in ½" dice
  5. Wash, trim, and chop zucchini in 1 " dice
  6. Stir fry celery until transparent
  7. Add carrots, stir fry five minutes
  8. Add zucchini, stir fry one minute
  9. Add the spices, except for the fresh herb and salt, lower heat and stir until they start to brown
  10. Slow Cooker or Crock Pot: Preheat slow cooker or crockpot on low, add all ingredients, and 1 ½ cups boiling water, cover and cook 2 - 3 hours on low (or until all water is absorbed)
  11. Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a three or four quart oven proof casserole with lid. Add all ingredients except fresh herb and pepper
  12. Stir in 1 ¾ cups boiling water, cover, and bake 20 - 30 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed
  13. Before serving, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick
  14. Stir in the minced fresh parsley or cilantro, fresh ground pepper, and serve

Source: http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/quinoa-carrot-zucchini-casserole.php

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Scroll down for recipe

It's early Friday evening, April 24th, and I'm cooking for Shabbat. I carefully and mindfully prepare Armenian Squash Soup while listening to the BBC World Service talking about the Armenian Genocide and the Gallipoli campaign. One hundred years ago today, the Armenian Genocide began, with the murder of 800 Armenian leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople, followed by the forced removal and deportation of Armenians. As many as 1.5 million Armenian civilians are believed to have died--many of them little children.

I start the chickpeas in the pressure cooker and begin cubing a squash from Munson Family Farms as I listen and reflect. The moment the Armenian Genocide first came to my awareness is unforgettable. It was 1971 and I was in the cafeteria at St Barts Hospital Medical College. We students liked to mix and mingle at the lunch tables. That day, a strikingly beautiful young woman with almond eyes and long, dark hair came to sit with me. "My name is Katherine in English, but at home I'm Gadarine. You see, I'm Armenian." At once a great sadness came over her beautiful face and her large, brilliant eyes clouded. Without further preamble, she said "We suffered a genocide in 1915." As a descendent of Ashkenazic Jews, I could understand her pain. We suffered the event for which the word genocide was coined.

I wash and chop the green pepper, wondering what was the most striking and unforgettable aspect of my first encounter with Gadarine. Was it the fact that, despite having taken A Level history, I had never before heard of this catastrophe? Or was it that, more than half a century later, this was the first thing my new friend wanted to tell me about? The power of her testimony, to an event her grandparents lived through, impressed me so deeply that I have felt close to Armenians and their tragedy ever since. So I decided to make an Armenian recipe today as an act of solidarity and remembrance.

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While the chickpeas were cooking, I chopped and assembled the other ingredients

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Then added them to the pot and simmered them.

Armenian Squash Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1cup chickpeas
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/2 - 2 quarts water or vegetable broth

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chopped tomatoes

  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 
2 1/2 lb. winter squash, washed and cubed (about 1" pieces)

  • 1 green pepper, cut in 1" pieces

  • Aleppo pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons dried, crushed mint leaves

  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil

Directions

Pressure cook chickpeas for an hour. Add salt, squash, tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper and lemon juice. Fry the garlic in a little of the olive oil and add. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, until squash is soft. Heat olive oil in small pan. When hot add crushed mint. Blend. Pour on top of soup. Enjoy!

Serving suggestion: Serve with Armenian Cashew Rice Pilaf

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Bitter gourds are a remarkably healthy food, good for blood sugar, diabetes and weight loss. They are also good blood purifiers and helpful for psoriasis and other skin rashes. There are two varieties, a darker green, wartier and more bitter variety sold in Indian grocery stores and a paler green and smoother variety, pictured above, sold in Asian markets. Due to their bitterness, they have the reputation of being an acquired taste. This delicious recipe will help you acquire the taste!

Besan is a flour made from chana dal and is available in Indian grocery stores. Chickpea flour would be a substitute.

Thank you to chef Ish Baker for taking the photos and creating this super-easy way to make Bitter Gourds Stuffed with Besan! The photos will help you get the recipe right the first time. Scroll down for the recipe.


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Slitting the bitter gourds

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Taking out the seeds.

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Stuffing and baking

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Turning after 30 minutes


Bitter Gourd Stuffed with Besan

Ingredients:

  • 4 bitter gourds, size about 6 inch long. If longer, cut into 6 inch pieces. (Also known as bitter melon or karela)
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1" ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 Tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp amchur (Mango powder) or lime/lemon juice, 2 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch hing

Method

  • Wash bitter gourds thoroughly with water. If they are of longer variety, cut them into pieces of 6 inch size.
  • Lightly steam the bitter gourds to make it easier to slit, scoop and stuff them. Take out of steamer and cool until you can handle them.
  • DO NOT cut the bitter gourds in half BUT just SLIT them open lengthwise so seeds can be removed & stuffing added. Remove the seeds.
  • Heat a frying pan and add 2 tsp oil. When the oil becomes hot, add cumin seeds and hing. When the seeds becomes dark, add, green chili, ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add all the spices and besan. Stir well and cook until the mixture turns light brown, about 5-7 minutes. Mix half the cilantro
  • Fill the above mixture in each bitter gourd and close it back up.
  • Brush the bitter gourds with oil. Place in an oven dish and bake at 375 'F until soft (about an hour), turning them after 30 minutes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro.

Serve with rice & dal or simply with chapatti.

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Since I'm planning to host Frances Hollander, one of our Living Witnesses of the World War II era, for the amazing occasion of Shabbat and the first Seder of Passover, I knew I couldn't get away without matzo ball soup! So here is a recipe for a nice vegetable soup made special--and Jewish--with matzo balls. If you're not vegan you could use a standard matzo ball recipe. And if you're gluten free, you're in luck, as there is a GF variation of the vegan matzo balls recipe!

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

Serves: 8 to 10

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks, white and palest green parts only,
    halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 celery root,peeled and finely diced
  • 3 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 3 medium celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 medium turnip, diced
  • 1 medium rutabaga, diced
  • 8 ounces white or brown mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
  • 8 cups home made vegetable broth (or 2 qt pkts vegetable broth)
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • A few springs of mint
  • Vegan Matzo Balls (see below)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the shallot and leeks and sauté over medium heat until the leeks are limp (about 10 minutes).

Add the celery root, carrots, celery, turnips, and mushrooms and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the vegetable broth and tomatoes. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.

Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Resting during seder will allow the soup to gain in flavour.

Just before serving, add the paprika, dill and mint and heat the soup through. Add more water or vegetable broth if needed, then adjust the seasonings. Serve with Vegan Matzo Balls.

Adapted from http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/moroccan-style-matzo-ball-soup/ and http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/spring-vegetable-soup-with-vegan-matzo-balls/

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Sauteeing the veggies seals in flavour

Vegan Matzo Balls

Adapted slightly from http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/vegan-matzo-balls/#EhwSxApSrfmOAMit.99

Most vegan matzo ball recipes use silken tofu; I picked this one because it used quinoa flakes instead. I decided to use whole wheat matzo meal for health and taste. And I added turmeric to replace the golden colour of egg yolk and because it's healthy. I've had disasters boiling vegan matzo balls, they just fall apart in the water. So I loved Nava's idea of baking them instead. They hydrated and became larger in the soup. Not really like Granny Pearl's fluffy matzo balls, but not like bullets either. I did a trial run this shabbat in preparation for Pesach and Sadananda and Frances did appreciate these vegan matzo balls.

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Matzo balls are shaped and ready to bake; I used Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes and Whole Wheat Matzo Meal

Makes: About 24

  • 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup whole wheat matzo meal (or 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes for a gluten-free version)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil

In a large mixing bowl, cover the quinoa flakes with the water. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.

Stir in the matzo meal (or additional quinoa flakes for GF), salt, pepper, turmeric, onion powder, and oil. Mix until well blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Just before baking, preheat the oven to 275º F.

Roll the matzo meal mixture into approximately 1-inch balls; don't pack them too firmly. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (more like 30 min for whole wheat), carefully turning the matzo balls after 10 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch; don't let them brown.

If making ahead of time, let the matzo balls cool completely, then cover until needed. Warm them briefly in a medium-hot oven and distribute them among the soup bowls, allowing 3 or 4 matzo balls per serving.

Note: Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes are kosher (carry a hexure). They don't need a special kashrut for pesach because they are not a grain at all. I used Manischiewitz 'kosher for passover' matzo meal.


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Baked yummy matzo balls ready to add to soup!

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Making thrifty vegetable broth (aka vegetable stock) is easy; it just takes a little thought and planning. At Alandi, we usually make the broth on Friday. All week long, I save clean vegetable scraps in a plastic, cloth or brown paper bag in the frig. This time I had asparagus stalks, watercress stalks, tops and tails of carrots, some Jerusalem artichoke offcuts and the stem and outer leaves of my cauliflower. Often I have broccoli stalks etc.

When you're ready to make the broth, use a stainless steel stock pot. Wash your veggie scraps and put them in the pot. If it's something large, like a cauliflower stalk, chop it up. Look in your vegetable drawer for anything that needs using up. You can wash and add it. If you like, add some dried herbs for seasoning, but you don't have to. And I prefer not to add salt as it's easier for me to salt the final product (soup, risotto etc). Add plenty of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for a couple of hours, until the water has a good colour. Strain and store in a screw top glass jar until you're ready to use it as a base for a soup or as called for in a recipe.

Mint Chutney

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Mint Chutney with Tridoshic Yam Kitcheri

The perfect accompaniment to kitcheri is Mint Chutney. This refreshing condiment stimulates digestion, comforts your taste buds and adds to meal satisfaction. As you come off your pancha karma or kitcheri cleanse, begin adding Mint Chutney alongside Cleansing Kitcheri, Tridoshic Yam Kitcheri or Kitcheri with Cauliflower and Peas.

Mint Chutney

Makes approximately 2 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh mint leaves

1 cup water

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

½ small green chilli, chopped

1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine

1 Tb ghee

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 pinch hing

4 curry leaves

½ lime

¼ tsp salt

Preparation:

- Wash the mint leaves and discard long stems.

- Put the mint, water, coconut, chilli and ginger into a blender and blend on medium until it is a well mixed and finely ground paste.

- Heat a saucepan on medium and add the ghee, cumin seeds, mustard, hing and curry leaves. Cook until the seeds pop.

- Cool and add to the mint paste.

- Squeeze in the juice from the lime.

- Add salt and stir well.

- Store in refrigerator, keeps for 2-3 days.

Source: Usha & Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing (New Mexico, The Ayurvedic Press, 1994).

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This comforting recipe is ideal for times when you are coming off pancha karma, are on a kitcheri fast, are recovering from flu or have delicate digestion. Warming spices make this a digestible and delicious meal balanced for all three doshas. Serve with Mint Chutney for a perfect combination of tastes.

Tridoshic 'Yam' Kitcheri

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1cup split hulled mung beans

1 cup basmati rice

3 tbsp ghee

1 and half inches minced fresh ginger

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1 tsp turmeric

1 handful cilantro leaves

8 green cardamom pods

8 whole cloves

11 black peppercorns

3 inch piece cinnamon stick

3 bay leaves

Salt to taste

1 large yam, cubed (actually a golden sweet potato)

Preparation:

  • Rinse mung beans well with cold water and soak for a few hours
  • Rinse rice well and soak while beans are cooking
  • Put ginger, coconut, turmeric, cilantro and some water in a blender or food processor and blend. Use enough water to blend well.
  • In a large pot, melt ghee over medium heat and sauté cardamom pods (split open first), cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and bay leaves for a few minutes. Then add the blended spices and sauté for a few more minutes until lightly cooked.
  • Next add beans and yams; cook for a couple more minutes. Add enough water to cover the beans with at least 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the beans are completely broken down. Then add the rice and cook until the rice is broken apart. Add more water as needed. Salt to taste and enjoy!

  • tridoshic-yam-kitcheri

Here is the ultimate 'fancy rice' for a special event. This delicious recipe uses channa cheese balls, which can be made from either cow or goat milk. Here is a video on how to make chenna cheese. Generally chenna is softer than paneer due to not having been pressed or hung for as long.

Since this is a relatively complex recipe in that it has a number of steps, we decided to take a series of photos to make the process easier. Please give it a try--it's delicious and well worth the effort. Thanks to chef Scott Bears for making this dish and Nicole Herbert for taking the photos!

Scroll down for the recipe.

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Roll the chenna cheese into balls with ragi (or rice flour) as a binder

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Fry the chenna cheese balls.

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Voila! Yummy fried chenna cheese balls!

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Mix the rice with turmeric and ghee.

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Soak the saffron threads in milk (or water).

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Fry the nuts and raisins.

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Gather the spices and then fry them.

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Then stir in the rice.

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Stir fry for a few minutes.Pour in fried nuts, raisins, coconut and saffron milk, stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer 20-25 minutes or until rice is done.Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tb ghee and fried chenna balls. Gently fluff rice and mix ingredients. Enjoy!

Royal Rice

Serves: 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups basmati rice
  • Freshly made Chenna cheese (p. 315) made from 6 cups milk
  • 1 Tb ragi flour or rice flour
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbs blanched raw pistachios, halved
  • 2 Tbsp cashew peices (optional)
  • ¼ cup dried coconut cut into ribbons
  • 3 Tbs raisins or currants
  • 3 Tb melted ghee
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ Tb milk
  • ¼ tsp saffron threads
  • ghee or oil for frying
  • 6 cloves, whole
  • 2" piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 large black or 4 large green cardamom pods
  • 1 whole dried red chili (or as desired)
  • 1 ½ tsps cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp kalonji if available
  • ¼ tsp hing
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 ¾ - 3 cups water

Preparation:

  1. clean rice
  2. place warm chenna on counter and knead out extra moisture, knead until creamy and knead in flour. Scrape cheese into a ball. With film of oil on hands divide into 5 portions and roll each into 10 round balls - set the 50 balls aside on a plate.
  3. Place nuts, coconut and raisins in individual mounds on a plate and set aside.
  4. Place rice in a bowl and add 1 Tb melted ghee and turmeric. Mix together and set aside.
  5. Heat milk in a serving spoon, transfer to a small cup and soak saffron threads until needed.
  6. Heat ghee/oil to a depth of 2" in a frying pan over moderate low heat. When oil reaches about 325' F fry one by one the mounds of nuts and coconut until each turns golden brown. Fry raisins until they turn plump and a few shades lighter. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and place in a medium sized bowl. Raise heat to moderate and cook cheese balls in two batches. Cook them for ½ minute, then move balls with a chopstick until they rise to surface. Continue frying using a slotted spoon, and fry until rich golden brown on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and hold aside.
  7. Remove ghee/oil from heat, put 4 Tb in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot (not smoking). Add cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli, cumin and coriander seeds and kalonji. Fry until cumin seeds turn brown. Stir in hing, then quickly add turmeric-coated rice and salt. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil.
  8. Pour in fried nuts, raisins, coconut and saffron milk, stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer 20-25 minutes or until rice is done.
  9. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tb ghee and fried chenna balls. Gently fluff rice and mix ingredients.

Source: Yamuna Devi, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987).

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