Wednesday

Valentine Roses- in new Avatar-DIY Rose Water.

Hello Dearies!!! V day is long gone and the roses are wilted by now, But what about the sentiments that go along with the V day gifting, have they also wilted like the roses. I get 3 roses every V day, and I gift a cake in return., That is set in Ashland. 

We do not budge with the whole spending and breaking the budget over overpriced emotions and things expressing love on one day!!! I visited the regular grocery store one day before Feb 14th, and was amazed to see people, all ages, young big, old buying stuff that was either red, heart shaped and over priced. Please do not get me wrong, but I fail to understand the hype behind showing love on one day and fighting the remainder of the year

A regular dozen rose bunch was priced at $50, normally it is for $15-$20. As not to dampen the spirit of showing Mommy a little love, I set the budget to $10 on roses and around $10 for the cake. I am not cheap in gifting, where I need to spend I surely do, but the hype behind some holidays conveys wrong message to kids is what I feel. I may be wrong, but then I am what I am!!!!

I did bake a boxed mix cake and  piped some rosettes with my loved whipped cream pudding icing.
 But the star for the day is DIY Rose water. While growing up, having rose water  at home was a regular thing. My mom used it in sweets, in bath water and even applied on her face to cool off in summer. Rose water is  a natural toner and very useful as a medicine and beauty product.

I have been reading a lot about wellness and using herbs and pantry items to create different skin care lotions. I plan on making a glycerin and  rose water potion to reduce dryness and anti skin aging for the spring months when my skin tends to get very dry and  develops dry patches. Keep reading this space for more on that.

I use the three wilted roses that Mr. Ash and kids brought for me on the V day. There is something about V day roses, they are more fragrant than the regular ones. But come June and my home grown tube roses would also be just as good. Making rose water is as easy as  boiling water.

I refereed to this website for making the rose water but seeping for 3-4 hours was not for me. So instead I boiled the petals with water and cooled it; I got a beautiful colored rose water in less than 30 minutes. The kitchen smelled like a rose valley, which was an added bonus.

You will need;
3 Roses- I had 2 red and 1 white- Pesticide free and if possible organic.
1 cup cold water 

Wash and rinse the petals of the roses. In a pot, take the washed petals, immerse in the cold water. You do not need a lot of water, just till the petals soak. Boil on low heat till the water boils and the petals give away most of its color. Mine took about 10-15 minutes.

Once you achieve the desired color, turn off the heat, and let cool for another 15 minutes. Strain and use the liquid. The rose water can be stored in a food save bottle in the fridge for about 10 days. Put it in a spray bottle and  freshen up dull skin or add in the bath water to experience a Cleopatra style bath. Whatever you decide to do, do let me know how you did it and how it helped you.

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Monday

Its Raining Cakes in Ashland- Sweet cakes in the offering

Hello Sweeties!!!! Its getting sweeter in Ashland. With Spring in air and on my toes, I have been baking cakes  for my loved ones all along February. 

I am also trying my hand at making chocolate art. Kids cake can be made theme based by using cake toppers/toys that can be washed and used only as decoration. But when it comes to baking and decorating cakes for my family and friends who not necessary are all young kids at heart, I get stuck at decorating them. Using Fruit is one option, but again it takes away the essence of eating dessert that you can actually feel guilty about.

For the chocolate art, I put the bar of good choclate in an icing bag and zapped that in the microwave to melt it, cut the tip of and used it to trace some design on an silicon mat and froze it for 30 mins. After that kind of gently removed the frozen chocolate and used it as a cake topper.
 
Desserts need to be sinful and they should make the girls feel guilty of indulging in, only then they can give you a blissful feeling of  feeling happy. I am sharing the pictures of cakes I have made recently. The cakes are not necessary from scratch and are semi home made i.e. from boxed mixes, But the icing is all home made with whipped cream and custard and even bit of vanilla splashed in for aroma and flavor.










The above cake is the Cake I want to mention specially. This cake has been made and decorated by a very special 6 year old friend with her moms help and tiny winy help from Ms. Ash. Her mom is my good friend and when she requested me for a cake decorating class, I was stumped. What do I teach a 6 yrs old girl about decorating

 Her mom instructed me to do a class as I normally would or an adult and she would have no issues with it. And boy was she right!!! This girl did not budge for the entire 2-3 hours of the class and we did  decorate this beautiful cake which she took home for her dearest Daddy!!! She taught me a very valuable lesson that if you have the passion and the right encouragement, age my friend is just a number. You are never too old or young to learn new skills.













Likewise no celebration is complete without some cake. What better gift can be than making a cake for your friend. So enjoy making, decorating and showering cakes on your loved ones.


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Friday

Save the earth-Round up Part II



Today I introduce another Green blogger, who is decorating her new home in USA with some paper and scrap and even boxes that find their way into our homes. She is a true champion of bring trash to treasure via simple useful items

I birng to you Radhika of Imprintshandmade. A crafter, blogger and a dear friend, who instantly agreed to contribute to my event.

Few Examples of what R is doing and small projects she has  created;

Cereal Box organizer - inspired by Ashwini Deshpande:);
 

 I used gift wrapping paper for this, besides glue and scissors. I cut the box into a container - high on one side and lower on the other, similar to file organizer boxes that you find in stores. I then glued the wrapping paper according to size, into the container. Lastly, I labelled this (not visible in the pictures) and now I use it to store non-prescription medicines.

Salt-box holder;




 This needs a craft knife, pre-punched flower shapes or shapes of your choice (I used postal mail covers that could have got trashed). I removed the lid part of it using the craft knife, removed the brand label and stuck up the pre-punched flowers. I then painted the white bottom which gets dirty from use, with white paint, and also to touch up the cardboard. A coat of Mod Podge was enough to finish it. I use such boxes to store brushes, pens and even as table top trash bins.

Bookmarks;



For the rangoli and Chittara bookmarks, I used cardboard from things we bought at grocery stores. We need to sandpaper the glossy sides of these card boxes that we cut up. Next, it is about sticking card stock or thick color papers to these cardboard's that you must cut to approximate sizes of bookmarks. Next, use white paint for the designs, and then touch up with a brush pen or marker that is darker in shade than the cardboard color. Also, use these markers to color the thickness for a neat look.

I used a similar procedure for kiddy costume bookmarks. For this though, I used pictures of kids in costumes that came in through the ad-fliers or coupon mail stash during Halloween season.



For the postal cover bookmarks, I substituted colored card stock with the inside of postal covers that arrive in my mail box. I used a typewriter rubber stamp and another rubber stamp besides distress ink for a grunge look.



Hope you like these new blogs that I introduced and all the things that you can imagine in your dreams to do with all the trash that we throw out as garbage.


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Tuesday

Save the Earth-Event round up -Part I











Pic Courtsey--Internet

 Hello Sweeties!! If you recall, the event Save the earth which was initiated by me, had  response from two of my good friends. Manasi and Radhika. They each had  their 2-3 cents to share with us.

This input has been from my dear friend, a Cook@Heart. 
So over to you Manasi;

I also want to send this post to Ashwini and her event Save the Earth, which focuses on reducing wastage, reusing material around the house and recycling stuff and lead a greener life.
 
While I am no expert or even any authority on this matter, I do some things in my day to day life and take a small step to lead a greener life.

 
I am sure you all do the same, but if you do things differently ( I am sure many of you do) Please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section.

I make it a point to switch off the lights and fan when exiting the room. This is an old idea and we all know about it, but consider this, the next time you forget to switch off the lights, there are people today who do not have any or regular electricity. Look no further than New York, Sandy has disrupted their life! It is Fall and the temperature dips to low, on such cold days and colder nights, people are without power, no heat, no hot water! Old folks and young children are suffering.


Use water carefully. I do not mean be stingy, but little things help. Do not leave the faucet running when you are brushing your teeth or when cleaning up in the kitchen after a cooking session.

 
My Father always reminded me when brushing my teeth. He told me of the hardships he had faced when young and living in Bijapur, Karnataka. Of the times when summer was intolerable and water scarce. 

 
I am thankful that I never had to face these hardships but that does not mean I misuse the privileges either.

When out shopping use your own cloth shopping bag. This is not a new fad. I have seen my Grandmother following this rule since my childhood and so has my Mother! On my last visit to India, I got back my old bag, stuffed with goodies ( it can take a lot of weight!)


 
These are very convenient and fold up too! Such a small pouch in your purse! You can buy one, like this, tough I am not sure if they have the fold-away-pouch, for $1 at the grocery store. Every store carries them!

The other thing I used to do ( sadly, in the past tense) was use yogurt containers to store my beans, sugar, tea etc in the pantry. but after a while it became a problem- Out of sight, out of mind! Since these containers are not transparent, I could not see the contents and many a times, I would neglect some containers and have also ended up buying extra beans thinking I had none. So now, I use these containers as seed starters!


When I go out, I carry my own bottle of water, the reusable one I have at home.

We have, in the past, moved a lot. new apartments, new city, new state. I save my U-Haul boxes and re-use them. These are very sturdy and last up to 4 uses! Open them and lay them flat and store, they do not take up any space!


I store my comforters, woolens in Space Bags saving space and clothes also remain fresh. This is no big deal and many of you may not consider it going green, but IMHO, once I remove these woolens from the bag, they are fresh, do not smell at all and no need to wash them!


We use space heaters instead of using the furnace during fall, as and when needed. Dallas is not a cold place and small space heaters work well, saving electricity and heating the required space instead of an entire apartment when we use just 1 or 2 rooms at most. Of course as winter sets in, we do not hold back, we switch on the heat.


I try to use household items in cleaning as much as I can, for example baking soda, lemon, vinegar are efficient cleansers, not to mention pure and green! Google to find a cleaning solution that suits your purpose.

Carpool when possible.


On a lighter note, I do not iron my clothes until absolutely necessary! The husband calls it being lazy to boot, I call it energy conservation!


Some more steps I plan on taking:


We have a lot of old clothes, the good ones go into the donation box. The ones which are not good or torn and frayed will be used as cleaning cloths, in the kitchen. To wipe down counter-tops, appliances.


Compost (a dear friend has recently installed a small composter in her yard and I plan on contributing to it.


Wow, I am impressed Manasi at all the things you do. Hope all of us will be just as efficient in taking this small step ahead!!!

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Friday

Bhajani Chakali-Maharahstrian Favourite snack.-Back to roots.


Hello Dearies!! This is an old repeated item that I made sometime back, but back then I was an amateur blogger, not that I am any different today, still the pictures are getting better, as I age into Blogging years. I am not giving links to the old post as they are really not noteworthy. 

I am thankful to all my well wishers who ping me, buzz me to suggest that I make few design changes and  refresh my page with fonts and new pictures; I appreciate all your inputs and suggestions, but I am not that techie, or just say I am technology handicapped. 

Mr. Ash got me a smart phone last summer, lets just say I am still learning to use it smartly. I am learning and trying at a much slower pace that you all want to admit to.

Bhajani Chakli is one snack that makes every maharshtrian go weak in knees. Traditional recipes, chakli machines are passed on as family heirlooms and  not tempered with. I have seen my mom make amazing chakali's since I was young. She enjoyed every step of the chakali making process. I always thought it was so easy, make atta, press in machine and fry.. whats there that's more than that. 

After landing in USA and wanting to try my hand at them, made me realize the whole process of making chakali. This soon became my, " I must try to make chakali at home" obsession.  However expert chakli making needs, the patience that a new bride lacks, the expert eye for the correct temperature of the oil and also the ease with which your wrists move while pressing the chakali's into perfect rounds.

I made them the first time with my dear friend K. We both were learning to make diwali faral on our own and that's when we decided to try our hand at this snack. My moms words were echoing in my ears, NO more than 3 rounds each chakli, I set to make them with K and we had amazing results the first time we made. 

Our Diwali was complete with the most cherished snack of all. The bhajani or the atta/flour is specially made for chakali. I get it with me every time I visit home. My mom makes it in huge  quantities to pack into smaller portions and seals the packs individually. This is moms love I guess. 

The Bhajani recipe is much guarded by my mom, but I am hoping she makes it when I visit her the next time, so I can share it with you guys. Till then make do This Recipe.


You will need;
**Will make about 50 chakali's

2 cups Store brought bhajani Flour
*I used my mommy made  bhajani
2 cups water boiling
2 tsp Red chili powder

1 tspn Haldi/Turmeric
1 tbspn- Sesame seeds
1 Tbspn Butter/Ghee
1 Tbspn Ajwain
1 tsp Jeera
Salt and sugar to taste

Approx 2 cups Oil for frying


In a pot, keep the water for boiling, when it comes to a rapid boil, add the turmeric, chili powder, sesame seeds, jeera, Ajwain, Butter, salt and sugar.. mix well, then add the flour, stir well, cover with a lid and keep aside for 15 mins. 

Once cool, knead the flour mix into a soft dough.. and use the Chakli making machine to form nice circles of abt 1-2 inch....Never more than 3 rounds as my moms says;
Heat oil in a deep Kadhai/wok, and fry these circles on medium heat. Note that the oil should be hot not smoking hot...The chakalis need to be cooked well and crispy, having the oil smoking hot will burn the chakalis and not give them a nice crunch.

I am happy to rush this to Manasi aka Cook@ Heart who is hosting a CupoNation giveaway on her space. So if you don't yet follow her like a puppy, do so now and enter yourself to the cool giveaway she is hosting.

I am also sending this to Preeti's event. Hope you all will also join in and say No to Plagiarism.


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Thursday

Sudhama che Pohe-Dahi Pohe- Thick Betaen Rice in Yogurt.



Hello Dearies!! Dahi Pohe to most maharshtrians is what Yogurt Rice is to the southies of India. This dish is quick to assemble and can be jazzed up or toned down and has all essentials of a complete meal in itself. We always made it when Ganpati bappa was send home after the 5 day celebration at my aunty's home and we  packed him a serving of dahi pohe as shidori/ small snack on his way home. My Uncle told us that they were called Sudhamache pohe. We were too small to understand the entire story, but the legend goes as Sudhama and Lord Krishna were buddies and sharted all food and Krishna loved beaten rice. Sudhama would take some from his home whenever Krishna demanded it. Sudhama was poor and could not afford any more than that, but the Lord never differentiated between that, he enjoyed it as much every single time.  The Story is just as enjoyable as the simple bowl of dahi pohe.
Sudama was from a poor family. His father's name is Matuka and His mother is Rocana-devi. Krishna was from the royal family. But this difference in social status did not come in the way of their friendship. They lost contact over the years and while Krishna became a military leader and King of great repute at Dwaraka, Sudama stayed as a humble and somewhat impoverished villager. Some time later when Sudama was going through some bad times, not even having enough money to feed his children, his wife Susheela reminded him of his friendship with Krishna.
 
Though initially reluctant to go to his friend for help, Sudama finally agrees to go. He leaves with nothing but some beaten rice tied in a cloth as a present. He remembers that beaten rice is Krishna's favorite and decided to give this as a gift to the Lord.
 
Krishna is greatly pleased to see his old friend. He treats him royally and with much love. Overwhelmed by all this Sudama forgets to ask for what he actually came for. But the Lord realises what His friend needs, and the Lord's consort Rukmini, incarnation of Lakshmi, gifts him with his desires. On his return journey, Sudama ponders his circumstances and is thankful for the great friend he has in Lord Krishna. When Sudama finally returns to his home, he finds a palatial mansion instead of the hut he had left. He also finds his family dressed in extremely nice garb and waiting for him. He lives an austere life after that, always thankful to the Lord.
_________
Coming back to our post today, Mr. Ash actually taught me how to mix the dahi and pohe. The dish is enhanced by the way it is mixed and how much love can be poured into it. When we were new to USA, this was  staple at our home, when there was  a family gathering back home, or someone was getting married and the entire family gathered except us. There was no Skype like now nor any Face-time on i Pad then. Whatever we could manage was with a small webcam provided the internet was working at the other end. To cheer us up we always had this as BLD item. Onions can be added or not, same with green chilies, what cannot be omitted is Cilantro and Dhayatli fried mirchi. Recipe for that would be coming soon. I however do not make them, Mom makes and sends them. But I will learn to make and  post it here for you all.

You will need;
3 Cups Beaten Rice- Washed in running water and drained to remove the water.
1 cup Milk
1.5 Cups Yogurt
Salt and sugar to taste
1/3rd cup Cilantro 
1 Fried Chilli
**This is special kind stuffed with yogurt and masala and dried in sun.

Optional Items- Highly recommended
1 cup onion finely chopped
2 green chillies chopped fine
1/2 inch ginger grated

Tempering;
1 tsp ghee
1tsp Jeera/Cumin
and 1/2 tsp Hing/Aesofodita.  


In a bigger bowl, take the the washed and drained beaten rice.  Fluff with a spoon and  if you find them dry, sprinkle some water. they must be damp, and not wet and soggy., Add the milk and yogurt to the rice. Then add the salt, sugar and cilantro to the mix and stir well. Break the fried chilli and  sprinkle the stuffing over the dahi pohe mix. These can be enjoyed at this stage also, which is what we did and as seen in the picture. But Mr. Ash goes further and adds the chopped onions, grated ginger, chopped green chilli and finally the tempering. For the tempering, in  a small wok, heat the ghee and let the jeera/cumin sizzle, turn off the heat and add the hing. Pour this over the rice mix, stir once and enjoy this simple treat. They cannot be kept for  a long time, as the beaten rice absorbs the yogurt and milk and  loses its crunch. If you enjoy baby food consistency, then you may enjoy them as well. I fed this to baby Donut when the days just went by doing nothing, yet having no time to make his lunch on time. He enjoyed this then and he likes this now. Some thing never change with age, I guess. However, Munchkin does not touch them with a stick. He is still coming around to simple pleasures. 

Sending this to Preeti's event. 

If you want to participate and win a free cookbook, hop onto Preeti's blog for rules and info. And kindly pray that Ms. Ash does win the awesome cookbook, so that she can learn to cook some authentic marathi food.

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Sunday

Pivali/Yellow Batatyachi Bhaji- A staple in most Traditional Marathi Menu's.

Hello Sweeties!!! Hope you are doing well. I am a little miffed with some of our attitudes. I mean Why would you take what is not yours? Is this what was taught to us while growing up? Lying and Grabbing have become the new motto of the new world. You are confused with what Ms. Ash is saying, Read this;  and this.

I am not giving links and names out of such low types as I do not want to give them free publicity and let them bask in the fake glory of fame. I also was not asked to do this post to support the initiative and I am doing it as I sincerely feel that such cheapos should be exposed and brought to light and made to answer the enormous WHY's. We bloggers  put a lot in each post, recipe, picture. I do understand that its not  the recipe that we invent, its mostly the way we learnt to make, but the work that we put on our spaces is OURS, in our own kitchens and in our own ways, that excuse me no one has the right to lift.

I am amazed at the level some bloggers or foodies go, to hide their bad deeds. All the Gung ho about Marathi Asmita and how Marathi people should Support Marathi people when you are caught stealing others work does not go down with me. A thief is a thief no matter what language he/she speaks and no matter which part of the world he/she stays. Even my 5 yr old knows not to touch what is not his, so whats wrong with few of us who have double digits in our ages and yet still don't get it. I am taking this medium to point out the need for us bloggers/ non bloggers and humans if we call ourselves to start a blog watch amongst ourselves. We need no Forums no Govt support, we need to keep an eye out for such thieves and once caught, bombard their FB page or blog with comments that will sort of compel them to stop doing the dirty work. Blogger United is what we are looking for. Not just the sects and communities, countries that we each belong but bloggers as ONE  under the same umbrella. Its upon each of us to take on ourselves to stop this Plagiarism and watch for one another. FB is a strong medium where in we all should come together and report the matters in our networks to form a circle.

All this talk about Marathi asmita and Preeti's event (ISingCakes) made me think of some marathi dish that is accepted in all Indian cultures and holds the position of a very kid friendly menu item; what better than regular yellow batata bhaji. No naivedya meal is complete without this bhaji, kids like it elders like it, leftover can be masked easily; if you ever have any leftovers. I for one never have any leftover of this bhaji. Munchkin demands a poori with this bhaji, while Donut is happy with hot phulka and ghee smeared on it. Its the ultimate comfort food in Ashland. My Aaji always added Ginger grated to the mix, so that's what I also do all the time. Basic recipe where Peas can be added or omitted, a crowd pleaser every time. I am sending Preethi a simple and humble entry and joining her in her fight against Plagiarism. You are not alone Preeti, we are all with you.

You will need;
5-6 medium potatoes boiled-Diced into cubes
2 medium hot green chillies- chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 inch ginger grated
6-8 curry leaves
salt and sugar to taste
Cilantro to Garnish
1 Tspn Lemon Juice- Optional

Tempering;
3 tbspn Oil
1 tspn  mustard seeds/rai
1 tspn Jeera /cumin
1 tspn haldi/Turmeric
1 stpn Hing/Aesofodita

In a kadhai/wok, heat the oil on medium heat, add the tempering when oil is hot, let it sizzle, then add the green chillies and the curry leaves. Let it fry for 1 minute then add the salt and sugar, and grated ginger, lastly add the diced cubes of boiled potatoes, stir well, cover and let cook for 5-7 minutes. Lastly add the lemon juice and cilantro and  serve hot with hot piping poori's or phulkas or with simple varan bhat and tup( dal/rice and ghee).
     
If you want to participate and win a free cookbook, hop onto Preeti's blog for rules and info. And kindly pray that Ms. Ash does win the awesome cookbook, so that she can learn to cook some authentic marathi food.

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Thursday

Cabbage-Carrot Paratha- Kids Lunch Box


Hello Sweeties!!! Love is in the air. Know what I mean. Its February and The V day buzz has already started in Ashland. Boys are busy with the lists for the friends, making cards and sticking a cute heart lollipop to it and writing messages to all their class friends. Munchkin's school has set up a post box, where anyone can mail cards, letters special messages to the kids. One class take the job of sorting and delivering mails. Then the teachers read out the mail. Wish we had such cute things in our school. School then would have been little fun at least. But FYI, I was an expert in faking tummy aches and falling on steps that they always send me home. More of my school and dislike tales in later posts.


As you know school and kids lunch has become my obsession lately. What do I give them that will result in empty lunch boxes in the afternoon. Such a quest is never ending. My boys love eggs, bread and Parathas. Not much to work with if I close my mind and go the traditional way. Yet it opens a  world of possibilities, if I learn to use it wisely and mix and match few things. These 3 food items are truly like the red blue and yellow primary colors. If you know about colors and art that I know we all learnt in school and use it wisely,  in different proportions; we can create and make variety of  colors. With this logic in mind, I set my mind to work and today I bring to you one such dish that made me happy. Never have I been so happy to see empty boxes. Please help me out with ideas and lunch box items that have worked for you and your kids.



To make the Parathas;
You will need;
2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup cabbage Finely Grated
1 Carrot- Finely Grated
* Use the small hole on the box grater.
( Munchkin literally means no strings attached to his food, so I grate everything using the smaller garter on the box grater)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Red chili/cayenne powder
1 tspn Haldi/Turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 Amchur or dry mango powder
1tsp Sugar
1 tsp Garam masala
2 tbspn oil to knead the dough
Water as needed to make the dough soft.

In a wide bowl, take the carrot and cabbage and the dry powders and add salt and sugar, add oil and mix well, now start adding the flour and start mixing in the flour. Add teaspoon by tea spoon water till you have a soft pliable dough. Once  the dough is soft enough, cover  and let rest for 15-20 mins.

After the dough is rested, roll out the parathas like you would make roti's( make small balls  of the dough and roll out thin round tortillas dusting flour if the tortillas stick to the surface). Heat a griddle or tawa on medium heat and cook the partahas on one side. Flip the parathas and spray oil and cook the other side. Repeat on side one and cook both sides. Serve hot with some ketchup. or green chutney or any curry of your choice.
If making it for kids lunch, I usually scramble an egg with milk and make a small frankie of the egg with the paratha, in this way.

Kids love it with ketchup on the side, and I love it that they actually eat a wholesome lunch at school.



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