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Aunt Christine’s Household Hints! – VINEGAR!

If anyone knows me personally, (and I know those who don’t, I do believe you’re missing out..), they would most likely know who my Aunt Christine is as well. I grew up in the country, a half mile away from her, and spent hours upon hours at her house  playing with my cousins when we were kids. Now, as an adult I still adore her (possibly more than when I was a child), and as anyone who knows her can attest, she’s one of the most generous people I know.

Now keep in mind, generous comes in many different ways with her.  For instance, every time I go south to the States she comes over and gives me some “funny money” (US Dollars) that she had just “hanging around”. When she comes across a great deal somewhere, instead of buying one, she’ll buy a few and end up giving me one of whatever it is. For my last birthday, she bought me a purple wig. Yep… I don’t know why either, but she’s great that way! I mean come on, who gets a purple wig AND a helium “Happy Birthday” balloon that sings the birthday song to you whenever you punch it???? I loved it!!

Ok, so moving on. At some point a year or so ago, she came over and gave me a super cool series of small books that she bought God knows where. They are basically 3 separate books on different uses for household vinegar, baking soda, and salt. Alright, obviously these hints aren’t exactly MY AUNTIE’S HINTS as the title of this blog post suggests, because the vinegar book is actually written by Christine Halvorson (NOT my Aunt Christine) but I kinda like the idea that she gave me the books, so it seems like they came from her…. like my logic?

Here’s the vinegar book:

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The books have a bit of a retro/vintage type of look to them, and are full of super cool little “hacks” or hints, to make life easier, and cost effective.The book suggests using Heinz’s brand name vinegar, however, I’m SURE any brand name of vinegar would work if not your not feeling fancy. Just be sure it’s the 5% acidity kind.

So, I thought when times are a bit slow around here (aka, I have nothing new to post), you, my dear readers, will get a handy dandy hint or two on how to use one of these household staples in ways that you may not have ever dreamed of! Well perhaps you may have heard of a few of these, but you can always pass the info (as well as this blog post..ahem) onto someone who might not be in the know. That way, you could be the hero for the day and be a smartypants ALL AT ONCE!

Win win!

So, we shall commence the schooling with the household vinegar tips. For the most part, these tips are referencing your run of the mill, white, grocery store bought, 5% acidity vinegar. A few tips will use apple cider, but that will of course, be prefaced.

Ok. Here’s two handy hints to get us started:

For cleaning your microwave:  If you microwave is dirty and greasy with old food particles and other grossness, microwave a glass container with one cup of water, and a 1/4 cup of vinegar for about 3 to 4 minutes. After the microwave is finished, leave it there for about 10 minutes without the opening the door. Then, open the door and simply wipe clean!

Laundry: If you add 2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle while washing cotton or wool blankets, it will remove any soapy residue and leave the blankets smelling clean (not of vinegar), soft and fluffy!

If you have any uses for vinegar, let me know and I’ll post them here!

If you’re interested in buying these books, here’s a place you can:
http://www.amazon.com/Heinz-Distilled-Vinegar-Helpful-Household/dp/141271365X

This Happened.. with a Tomato.

TOMATO PATTIES
(pictures below)

“Tooooo many tomatoes!!!!!!!”,  said you.

Is that what you’ve been saying lately as you survey your garden? A little over zealous when you planted your little starlet seedlings, hmm? I can hear it now ” Ooohh, I’m going to can/freeze/dehydrate tons of tomatoes, and I’m gonna make stewed tomatoes, salsa, and TONS of healthy sauce!”.

I know, because I said the same thing.

While the tomato plants on my side of the world aren’t quite ruby-red globes yet, (and I can see I have a shitload coming), I know in other spots of the world they are screaming to come off the vine. What do to with all of them is what’s playing on every well-intentioned gardeners mind.

So when you’re all salsa’d out,  you can’t stand the thought of ANOTHER can of tomato sauce, and every neighbor in a mile radius of you pretends not to see you when you offer them a basket like a Price is Right model,…….. try this recipe.

Oooh I’m telling you, this recipe is fanfreakintastic! If you like the combination of bacon and tomato………. wait… what am  I saying.. “IF”???? EVERYONE likes that combo and if you don’t, well, I’m breaking up with you, because I can’t be friends with people who don’t like a bacon tomato combo, I mean come on!!!

In an effort to eat less carbs lately, (namely anything starchy and white) I skipped the BLT sandwich idea. Here’s the better plan:

A good size tomato.

Slice thickly (3 slices).

Dredge the slices first in coconut flour, then egg, then in seasoned almond flour mixed with shredded parmesan cheese. You can choose any seasoning your beautiful heart desires. I chose a bit of seasoning salt, rosemary, lemon pepper seasoning and some garlic powder.

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Fry till golden on each side.

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Plate.

Dollop on a bit of sour cream, bacon and then finish with chopped chives (I used dill, because I didn’t have any chives).

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Oh sweet momma. The rich, tomato-y freshness that contrasts off the salty bite of the bacon, mixed with the creaminess of the sour cream, is a combination that could make the heavens open  and harps play Queen’s “We are the champions”. … Ok, maybe not THAT song, but something just as triumphant. Seriously my lovies, this recipe is amazing.

I’ve seen a different version of this miracleness made by what has to be one of the hottest chefs in Canada. Like.. SUPER hot. If you’re thinking Chef Chuck Hughes, you’d be right. Clean the drool off your lip, I know.. I know….. he’s so sexy right?  His version was to dredge the tomato in your standard flour egg and panko mix, and instead of bacon, he used pancetta.  So yeah… pancetta, shmancetta!!! Bacon works just as well if you’re not feeling fancy.

You could serve these as the headliner on your plate with a side salad, or they can easily play co-star as the side dish. This is a fresh, cheap, SUPER TASTY way to enjoy your summer bounty.  If you brought these to a barbecue in the neighborhood, I’m pretty sure you’d be the one most talked about…………………………………….. in a good way.

What are some of the ways you’re going to use your summer tomatoes? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Clarks is kinda Super, man..Hehe, I kill me.

Clarks Restaurant
Suite 170-130 Broadway Blvd,
Sherwood Park, AB

So you should know by now, my illustrious readers, that I like cheap. Not cheap quality mind you, but cheap price tags. I can appreciate quality in things and will happily pay for it. However, I can’t help but get all giddy and flushed when I find quality AND a cheap price in once spot.

I’ve been to this little gem called Clarks twice now in the last two weeks. Once for breakfast to meet a super cool friend of mine who sells sex toys for a living, (told you she was cool), and another time for lunch with my Mom. ( My mom doesn’t sell sex toys for a living, and while I thank God for that, she’s still cool.)

So I’m only going to review the lunch with Mom for this post because I wasn’t thinking to take photos of the breakfast I had with my cool friend, plus my Mom said “Hey, you should review this place”.

Smartypants.

Easy to find, this little spot has maybe 10 tables in the whole place, I think. Surprisingly, it was about half full at 12:30 in the afternoon, (thought it might be busier), but our server greeted us immediately when we walked in the door and brought us to a table. Taking our drink order and giving us menu’s she left us to decide.

The prices on this menu are amazing people! Mom ordered liver and onions (she could have ordered the senior’s size for $6.50 – one scoop of mashed potatoes with gravy, two pieces of liver, and vegetables – but she’s in denial about the senior thing I think – so she ordered the normal portion). She went on about how she hasn’t eaten liver for almost a year, and I reminded her that it’s been about 25 years since I’ve eaten it. I’d rather run naked through a cactus patch and bathe in a tub of vinegar than eat liver.

Ok, not quite, ….. but well, honestly?…… Maybe.

I ordered their house burger (can’t remember the name of it dammit!), but it had cheese, bacon and mushrooms on it with all the other burger paraphernalia, and fries. The price for that burger rang in at $8.99.

When the dishes came to the table, my mom seemed super pleased with her decision. She tried her first bite of the liver and looked up to the ceiling and said ” OH MY GOD” (all dramatic like),  with an added “this is the best liver I”ve had in a very long time!!”. The waitress came along and Mom repeated what she expressed loud enough for all the other tables sitting around us to hear, and then the waitress went straight away into the kitchen and you could her yell… “JUAN!! Hey JUUAAAAN!!! -The liver and onions are excellent she said!”.

She had started eating it by the time I took the photo.. sorry peeps, but here it is! :

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Mom figured the liver was slightly coated in a panko type coating and fried slightly crispy, but not like “shoe leather”. The gravy tasted home-style, the mash was smooth and creamy and she said the veggies were very good – fresh, not from frozen and  not overcooked. All this stupid excitement over the liver made me think I had to try it.

So I cut a very small piece and kinda dipped in some gravy.

It was crispy on the outside, tender, and still tasted disgustingly like liver to me. But I will admit, it was the very best of all the gross tasting liver I’ve ever had in my life.

For real – If you love liver,  you will love Clarks’ liver.

(Somehow that sounded weird, but you get what I’m saying)

My burger was pretty good. The patty was house made and slightly dense, almost overworked, but very tasty. The cheese and bacon were nice but it could have used a few more mushrooms. All in all, the portion size was more than worth that price tag. Hell, you’re gonna pay that same price pretty much at MacDonald’s and the patties there are like shingles.

Ma burgah pic:

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Our server was VERY attentive and incidentally, an older lady who’s been with the company for 22 years. This lady worked her ass off, was super friendly and made sure we were looked after. She was worth the generous tip, without question!

On a side note, their breakfasts are super decent (EG: 2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 sausage, 2 bacon for $5.35.) and they have a huge variety of different Eggs Benedict if you’re looking for something other than the original.

I will definitely be going back to Clarks for breakfast or lunch. Apparently for dinner, it becomes a chinese food place, which is great, but I can’t comment right now because I’ve not tried it…………………………..

Yet.

Nothing Rhymes with Tutti Frutti for Breakfast.

My BFF and I had tons of catching up to do after my fabuloso trip to AZ, so we thought we’d do that over breakfast. Wanting to try a new spot, she suggested Tutti Frutti.  Hey, I didn’t name it folks and for some reason, it reminds me of a cooler, cuter sister to Cora’s.

Relatively easy to find in a new area of the Park and it wasn’t busy considering it was a sunday morning. Decor is nice, a mixture of booths and tables and we were seated almost immediately upon walking in. The menu is already at  your table, so we could get right to work on ordering our grub. Our waitress was friendly and new, and every question she didn’t know, she went to find out and came back with answers pretty damn quick. This impressed me.

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I ordered the Raspberry Crisp : crunchy french toast topped with english cream & raspberry coulis and Kim ordered “Entre les deux” : french toast sandwich with egg, ham & swiss cheese plus lots of fresh fruit.

So first up, my Raspberry Crisp (and a side of bacon, cuz breakfast is a waste of time without bacon).

Here’s the Raspberry Crisp French Toast pic:

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So at first peep it looks pretty awesome, right? Yeah!….. well, kinda yeah.

One small problemo.

See, Kim and I were sharing our breakfasts so we could both taste what each other ordered. So I gave Kim the first two pieces of toast. Look at the picture again, and imagine it for a second folks with the top two piece of toast missing off the plate. What am I left with? Two pieces of french toast with NO topping… ok, very little topping. The cream and raspberry coulis were decorating only the very top quarter of the toast that was underneath the first layer.

Pas bonne people, pas bonne.

I asked for extra coulis and cream so I could actually get a proper idea of what the breakfast should be like. The toast had a really nice crunch to it (dipped in panko maybe?) and the raspberry coulis was SUPER fresh tasting. The cream added an extra rich touch to it. My biggest complaint about the dish is that the portion size was geared for Godzilla. Honest to God folks, who eats FOUR pieces of TEXAS TOAST for breakfast??????? So, a heads up to you, my dear reader – This dish is EASILY shared between two people.

I asked for crispy bacon on the side:

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It was waaay crispy. Like, crumble apart crispy.

Too crispy for me, but if you think I waved a dismissive hand to it, you’d be wrong. I ate that too crispy bacon because the bacon bible says it would be a sin to leave it uneaten.

Kim’s French Toast Sandwich (with a side of fried bologna):

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If you’re thinking that the “french toast” part of the sandwich doesn’t look very french toasty, you would win the prize. This apparent french toast was not eggy like the french invented it to be. It was like toasted bread with ham and swiss on it.

Oh..Ummm, I think they call that  A TOASTED SANDWICH???

Not impressive.

The fruit on the side was fresh and plentiful and the fried bologna was good as well, according to Kim. Who doesn’t like fried bologna? If you don’t, you should. You really really should.

All in all, the service was great but I found the prices were expensive for the quality of the food, to be honest. I’m cheap, but my breakfast with coffee, tax and tip was almost $21.00. For that money, I expect better quality for BREAKFAST food, folks.

Would we come back? We both agreed that we would, but we wouldn’t stand in line if it was busy and we would definitely share a main breakfast dish with a side order of something to supplement.

Tutti Frutti Breakfast and Lunch on Urbanspoon

Welcome to the PUFFIN.

I successfully married Pork and Stove Top Stuffing into a cute little … muffin.

I know, right?

Pork – meaty, savory, porky, protein rich.
Muffin – bready, sweet, moist, and good with strong coffee.

Separate, they are wonderful. Together? Initially, a conceptually difficult union to wrap your sweet pretty head around. OK.. I’ll speak for myself. It took me a bit to wrap MY sweet head around it. I mean, come on’ – What do you call it?

A Pork Muffin?

A Porkfin?

A Puffin?

Regardless of what one might call it, – it’s strange. But hey, how can you go wrong? Pork, and stuffing. Who doesn’t like that combination, and besides, we ALLL know what strange means to me.

It mean’s I gotta try it.

Plus, they said it was easy, and I like easy.

So… without further adieu, I give you………. a porffin?

Whatever.

Here’s what you need to make this wildly creative, culinary masterpiece:

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That’s right. A muffin tin, two eggs (three, actually. I’ll explain later), ground pork, and a box of good ole’ Stove Top Stuffin’. Try and match the flavors people, k? I mean, if you get ground pork.. use Stove Top Stuffing for pork. If you get ground turkey, (which is perfectly acceptable protein choice in this situation for all you skinny-minnies), use the Stove Top for turkey.

Yessssssssssssssssss, you don’t have to point out the obvious fact that I combined ground pork and turkey Stove Top Stuffing – but ground pork was what my freezer had, and turkey Stove Top was what the store had. No big deal. I’m comfortable flying that kind of flag out there for everyone to see.

You know, the REBEL flag.

So, because I can’t just be normal and go along with direction, I like to “doctor” things up. That would the Stove Top Stuffing that I’m talking about. If you have extra “aromatics” in your fridge folks, doctor that crap up. I started sauteing celery (and lots of it because celery and I have had an intense love / love relationship for many years), and onion with a touch of garlic.

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That particular day, I decided to live on the edge and add some hot chili flakes to the party. I added about a tablespoon and half.

It turns out I’m not as edgy as I thought.

Dial down the chili flakes folks.

Learn by my mistakes. Especially if you’re not too adventurous on the whole spicy thing. Start with half a teaspoon.. you can always add more (One of Mom’s favorite expressions)

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So at this point, when the aromatics are soft, make the Stove Top Stuffing according to the box instructions. Easy Peasy right? Once that’s finished, and slightly cooled, add your pound of ground pork (or chicken, or turkey) and THREE eggs. I realize I had previously said two, and I actually did only use two, but I found the finished product SLIGHTLY crumbly, so an extra egg would hug up all those ingredients and make them stick together much better.

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When the mixture is thoroughly mixed, spoon it into your greased muffin pans. My muffin pan has muffin cups for giants so I got six from the whole lot. However, if you are of the regular human race, I can say that normal muffin pans are acceptable, if not desired over the bigger ones.

Spoon them into the tins at the fullness that you want, as they don’t puff up, obviously, like a cake muffin would.

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Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. (All depending on what size of muffin tin you used. I used a longer cook time because of the muffins for Giants that I was making.) Use your logic okay? We are dealing with ground pork (or any ground meat), so it’s imperative that it’s thoroughly cooked. If in doubt, use a thermometer and cook them till you have an internal temperature of 160 degrees for pork and 165 for turkey or chicken.

FYI – At the very end of cooking time, turn on your blast broiler for a  minute or two. It creates this mildly crunchy top that is FANFRICKENSTASTIC!

I highly suggest you try that.

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These bubba’s are awesome with a side salad for a lunch, or even for a quick breakfast heated up in the microwave. Ok, listen, you can have them for ANY meal because they’re just that good. The batch I made are at the TOP of my spice tolerance so next time, I’ll go a bit kinder on the chilies. Lastly, these freeze like champions!!

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Give them a try and tell me what you think! What changes did you make to “doctor” them up?

If you thought this recipe was incredibly cool and made of awesomeness, please press the subscribe/follow button to always know what’s happening in the Forkin’ Foodie World!

YE OLDE KINGS HEAD!

Ye Olde Kings Head
116 Santa Monica Boulevard,
Santa Monica, CA
Written by guest reviewer, Chris Davis

When I think of British I think of 80’s pop bands, tea,Trafalgar Square, crappy weather, Monty Python, and those red telephone booths they have. But what about the food, you ask? Well that part is something they’re not really known for as a whole.But…. then there are their fish and chips.When you come to the Los Angeles area you usually expect the following: Palm trees. Hollywood boulevard. Movie stars. Writers and actors trying to make it but work at Starbucks, and some ultra trendy food that costs you your first child and is the size a mouse.Well they have all of that, but nestled on the corner of Ocean & Santa Monica Boulevard they also have Ye Olde Kings Head.20140310_114347
“The British are coming!” “The British are coming!”

Well don’t go spilling your Earl Grey tea just yet ~ they’ve been here since 1974.On looking outside you’d think it was just another wannabe pub with some English stuff on the walls, more trendy food, and a bar. But, you’d be wrong.

Completely wrong.
This place is as close to what you’ll find in a West End London pub (minus heavy accents and people from Guy Ritchie movies). The walls are adorned with soccer, rugby, and cricket memorabilia as well as pictures of countless movie stars that have come through the doors to eat the fare.20140310_114549An autographed picture hangs on the wall of Hell’s Kitchen chef (and guy I would stab on national television), Gordon Ramsey, playing soccer. Another picture is of rugby player turned actor, Vinnie Jones, backfisting some guy square in the jewels during a match.

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A class act I tell ya.

But I digress. Onto why I really came here: the food. I looked at the menu for a good 15 minutes after I fully knew exactly what I was going for but I like to see what else might strike my curiosity.

Ok ok ok.

Who am I kidding, I told Danielle, my cute dainty bartender/waitress, “I’ll have the fish and chips, but of course……
OH, and a Black & Tan with a Jameson back”

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While I wait I notice there’s a few fellas at the bar and they are Aussies!! And as Barcelona is playing (and losing) we spark up conversation about our native lands. Mine being San Francisco, and his being Perth. So now we’ve gone international but my food arrived and all talk stopped. I think they understood why.

Let me just say I’ve never been to the UK but I’ve had fish & chips over the years from many places and from what was placed in front of me, I can confidently say that I’ve been lying to myself for years up to now.

Here was what was handed to me with a smile:

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On first look it was something out of a travel magazine, and near perfection. It took me a minute or two to get my hands on it because it was piping hot. I let the heady glass of delicious Guinness and Harp cool my fingers.

The fish is a heavy battered cod fried to an amazing crispness that other places just can’t get quite right. This place NAILED IT. The “chips” or French fries as we in the states call it are a thick cut, almost like half of a steak fry. Served with a side of tartar sauce and a host of condiments, the malt vinegar and lemons were my weapons of choice that day.

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I came around mid-day before my flight back home to The Bay Area so there wasn’t much of a crowd but the waitress was on point and good with conversation. The Aussies and one transient drinker made for a nice cool afternoon. Inside it’s dark as you would think a pub would be but was extremely clean and well put together. There are dart boards for tournaments and along with the well stocked bar, they have a Scotch selection worthy of a long stay. The price of the food was moderate for the area you’re in and well worth it for the portion size.

So on your next trip to the west coast of Southern California make sure you stop by this little nugget of Britishness. Afterwards head over to the pier and do some other tourist stuff!

I give Ye Olde King’s Head and 8 out of 10.

Happy chowing!

blueforkinfoodiestamp

Ye Olde King's Head on Urbanspoon

Good ol’ Shenanigans

Shenanigans Irish Pub and Grille
423-A Shoreline Village Dr
Long Beach, CA 90802
United States

Written by guest reviewer,
Chris Davis

 

There are times when I want some specific type food
but my brain, for just some reason, can’t process what it is. However, in an
event such as this, you need to go with the one kind that
can never let you down……

PUB FOOD!!

Which in most cases for me is some kind of
Irish/British pub. This is what brought me to Shenanigans, located
in Shoreline Village, Long Beach. The weather was great and it was somewhere around 1 o’clock and I was in a mood for your simple wings and Guinness. This place looked like it would fit the bill just perfectly.

The building on the outside is yellow but the back side of the place has
great patio seating overlooking the downtown marina Long Beach. Inside it’s just what a pub should be, pool tables, dart boards, walls adorned with randomness.

Ahhhh yes, a pub as it should be!

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Oh and it’s stocked with a pretty snazzy Scotch selection that you can’t
go wrong with.

Now onto the grub, in some places they do wings different ways. Some fry them, some grill them, others fry and bake them. Me, personally, I prefer them fried nice and crispy with just enough sauce to get on my fingers but NOT on my shirt.

I ordered a dozen in a regular buffalo sauce but lightly coated, a basket of fries and my usual Black & Tan. The bartender had my heart when she asked me “Harp or Smithycks with your Guinness?” In a simple place they’d just serve it with whatever and not ask you. I’m a Harp guy with my Black & Tan’s when it’s available.

That’s just doing it RIGHT.

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My wings came out piping hot just as they should be and she was right on time with my next drink. There was a bit of a difference in these wings though. At first I thought it was some type of spice but the sauce had a bit more kick to it than normal. I couldn’t place what it was but DAMN it was good. The fries were extra crispy just the way I like them, and the house made blue cheese was just what the doctor ordered.

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The place wasn’t exactly its fullest, seeing as how it was a Thursday afternoon and more people were at the beach. But nonetheless, my waitress/bartender was cute and knew what she was doing behind the counter. So service wasn’t an issue and the prices were more than reasonable. So on your next Long Beach trip, go get into some Shenanigans!!

Happy chowing!!

Shenanigans on Urbanspoon

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