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2012 April 02 |

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Kids, get ready to paint

    For many young Red Wing Pottery collectors, getting to paint a genuine piece of Red Wing Pottery each summer during the Red Wing Collectors Society’s annual convention is a thrill.

    But, that project, which is part of the society’s KidsView program, was put in jeopardy when more than 200 restaurant blanks were stolen from a storage shed last November. Without those pieces, the children would have nothing to paint, and program coordinators worried that they would have to scrap the project.

    “It’s getting very, very difficult to find the plates and we’ve stocked up and it’s all gone,” Sue Jones Tagliapietra, co-chair of the Kids View program, said last fall.

    About 100 of the stolen blanks were recovered in a Lake City antique store in December, but the future of the program was still uncertain.

    All of that changed when the Red Wing Elks Club agreed to donate about 200 pieces of the blank Red Wing Pottery to the program.

    “This should bring our stock up to what we had before the theft,” said Stacy Wegner, the society’s executive director.

    The Elks Club had been using those restaurant blanks as dinnerware for weekly meals up until several years ago, when members opted for less heavy plates and bowls, Elks President Steph Riegelman said. Since then, the pottery has been in the club basement.

    “I honestly don’t think that most of our members knew that we had them in storage down there,” Riegelman said.

    That is except for longtime Elks member Steve Vagasky.

    “He talked to me at a Red Wing Collectors meeting,” Wegner said. “He said the Elks Club has some of the restaurant dinnerware.”

    Vagasky worked with Wegner and the Elks Club to coordinate the donation.

    “It just kind of ended up being one of those things that was the right thing to do,” Riegelman said.

    The pottery was officially turned over to the Collectors Society in an informal ceremony Friday evening.

    “I’m just super excited about this whole thing,” Wegner said. “It’s a blessing we get to keep the program going.”

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    Jim Hillibish: How to solve ‘pink slime’ burgers

    There’s a work around for the “pink slime” exposé on ABC-TV News. Call it a return to a task your grandmother performed decades ago: muscle power.

    As the top seller of beef products, commercially ground beef is taken for granted. Decades ago, all kitchens had meat grinders, and cooks ground their own beef, usually from cheap grades of chuck.

    Since 2001, meat producers have added all-beef fillers to ground beef, including lean, finely textured beef from fatty beef trimmings. This is the hated “pink slime” labeled by food activists.

    Because the fillers are made of salvaged beef, producers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture argue that label warnings are not needed. This has been an ongoing argument, but ABC’s report, which represented the food activists’ side, caused great alarm.

    If this bothers you, there’s a way around it. It’s called the meat grinder, and it soon can pay for itself. The advantages are a fresher product without the cartilage and small bone chips in the commercial. And you know exactly what you’re getting.

    Lower cost

    Commercial ground beef with less than 22 percent fat varies around $3.75 per pound. Homemade ground beef chuck is less than $3 a pound, sometimes way less during sales.

    Smart shoppers who grind their own meat seek out discounts. Cheaper cuts of beef, perfect for grinding, are often two-for-one deals, reducing the price to $2.50 or less.

    This is one case where the cheaper, lesser-quality beef stars. USDA Select grade is good, as it contains enough fat to make juicy hamburgers and meat loaves without being overly fatty.

    Once you get a hang for it, you can choose beef with your preferred amount of fat, or cut some from your purchase to create perfect ground beef. Look for beef well marbled with fat. Avoid lean cuts such as flank steak. A filet mignon burger would be dry and toothy.

    The machines

    Grinders come in many types and prices, although all include an auger to press the beef into steel-cutting plates. That’s important to extrude the round strands preferred with ground beef. It’s the texture we’re accustomed to, and what we know is what we like. The extruded strands patty up nicely, creating a lighter, more airy burger.

    Handle grinders, costing $15 to $30, clamp to a table. Electrical grinders are stand-alone or attachments to multi-mixers, such as the venerable KitchenAid at $65. Electrical stand-alones cost around $125.

    You can grind beef with the steel blade in your food processor, pulsing it to the texture you prefer. Be careful, it’s easily overprocessed, resulting in a puree that would pack hard in a patty. You’ll need a meat grinder if you want an extruded product looking like what’s sold in stores.

    The drill

    For average families, a manual grinder will suffice. Here are the steps to grinding your own:

    1. Slice meat into strips that fit the grinder hopper. Cut away all cartilage and gristle.

    2. Feed the strips one at a time into the grinder hopper. Don’t jam it in. Allow the motor to recover for a few seconds between strips.

    3. Use the separate pusher rod to force the meat into the auger.

    4. Some chefs prefer a finer ground beef, and so some double or triple grind their meat. (Store product is ground at the slaughterhouse and is often ground again by the local butcher.)

    5. Note that properly ground beef comes out in long strands with white flecks of fat. Store it in the refrigerator for up to three days or for two months in a freezer.

    The health thing

    An argument could be made that homemade ground beef is safer than commercial. The bane of commercial is that dealing with huge amounts of product presents the highest risk of salmonella and E. coli contamination. This is why makers insist their beef be cooked thoroughly. But if you like medium to rare burgers, grinding your own is the safest way to go.

     

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    Readers’ Choice: Mollie’s Country Kitchen Has Best Breakfast in Town

    Readers have chosen Mollie’s Country Kitchen as the best place in the city to start their day.

    Forty-six voters, or 31 percent, chose the quaint eatery that has been in business since 1985. Coming in second, and not far behind was Ted’s Place with a total of 28 votes, or 41 percent and International House of Pancakes had eight votes or 11 percent.

    According to Mollie’s owner Tony Jimenez, “We are so happy that readers voted us as having the best breakfast in Laguna Niguel. It’s a real honor.”

    Jimenez said his father started the restaurant in 1985 and he took it over about five years ago.

    Jimenez said favorite breakfast items include big Mexican breakfast options, skillets and omelets.

    “We have a huge menu that really runs the gamut,” he said.

    Congratulations to Mollie’s Country Kitchen.

    The Best Breakfast Place in Laguna Niguel: 

    1. Mollie’s Country Kitchen 31 (46%)

    2. International House of Pancakes 8 (11%)

    3. Ted’s Place 28 (41%)

  • Total votes: 67
  • This is not a scientific poll.

    Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off

    A visual feast

    You can find food not onlyin restaurants and markets, but also inside museums. Before the weather keeps us outdoors for months, take a spin through the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and find out what’s cooking on the walls.

    When it comes to paintings of festive, candle-covered birthday cakes, or a seafood dinner that looks good enough to eat, curator Erika Holmquist-Wall is the ultimate insider docent. Follow along as she guides us on a special up-close-and-personal tour of food-related treasures in the museum’s permanent collection. These nine aren’t the only pieces of food-related art at the museum. See if you can find the others. Admission? It’s free.

    1. “Allegory of the Four Elements”

    by Cornelis Jacobsz Delff (Dutch), oil on panel (28 by 40 inches), circa 1600

    “To do a food tour, we should probably start with cookware, right?” said Holmquist-Wall. “This is the earliest still life in the collection, and it’s really early for a Dutch still life. When we acquired it in 2002, we took it at face value for what it was: a simple, straightforward kitchen still life. It’s what Delff was known for.

    “But if you look closely, you realize that it’s probably an allegory of the four elements. You have vegetables depicting the Earth, fish for water, birds for air and metal for fire. We don’t know a lot about Delff. This is all he painted: still lifes. He made a name for himself painting these incredible pots and pans. You pick one thing, and you do it well, right? I’d love to have this cookware in my kitchen. The surfaces are incredible; they look as if they were hammered yesterday, which is pretty amazing, considering this was painted more than 400 years ago.”

    2. “Still Life”

    by Pieter Claesz (Dutch), oil on panel (27 by 35 inches), 1643

    “Look across this picture, and you’re like, ‘I want some lobster, I’m really hankering.’ It’s a celebration of the senses, and creating desire. This is a pretty high-end, unusual meal, particularly since at that time the Dutch were eating cheese and butter at every single meal. The lemon was imported from the Mediterranean, there’s lobster and crab, and there’s a suggestion that the beaker, with its different levels, might be a drinking game.

    “Claesz painted hundreds of these. There’s a monograph of his work, with page after page of these various setups with the glasses. In the 17th century, painters in different cities specialized in different scenes; it was all carefully broken down.

    “Claesz was from Haarlem, where it was all about food. In Utrecht, you have all flowers and fruit. In the Hague it was fish markets. These pictures were created for ready sale for the households who were suddenly making all of this money with the Dutch East India Co. They were probably the first original artworks for the middle class.”

    3. “Still Life With Fruits, Foliage and Insects”

    by Abraham Mignon (Dutch), oil on canvas (23 by 19 inches), 1669

    “It’s pretty, but you start looking closer, and eeeuh: Insects!

    Rotting fruit! Mignon was pretty devout. He was a deacon at his church as well as a painter, so of course all of his stuff is going to be layered with Christian symbolism. You know, one bad grape spoils the bunch, or eluding to the transience of life with the butterflies and caterpillars. To hang this picture of decaying fruit in your house, it’s sending a message, right? Seize the day, life is transient, your mortality is limited.”

    4. “The Asparagus Vendor”

    by Pieter de Hooch (Dutch), oil on canvas (30 by 41 inches), 1675-1680

    “This represents a typical middle-class interior, and it’s all pretty telling. Here’s a market girl at the door, selling asparagus, which I imagine was probably something of a luxury item. The very fancy wooden cabinet is covered with a sheet to protect it from day-to-day scratches. She’s the lady of the house, given her jewelry and her headdress. He is wearing a kimono. That’s the influence of the Dutch East India Co. and its forays into the Far East, bringing back all these foreign luxury goods. It became quite fashionable for Dutch men to don themselves in these robes.”

    5. “Abundant Fruit”

    by Severin Roesen (German-American), oil on canvas (21 by 26 inches), 1858

    “Here we are in 19th-century America, and when you think about it, 19th-century America and 17th-century Holland are pretty similar, politically, culturally and economically. Both had a lot of people making all this new wealth and commissioning paintings for their homes. So artists like Roesen just cranked out these still-life pictures for ready sale for these new middle-class homes.

    “It’s really American, this painting. Look how formally it’s arranged.

    There isn’t a kind of looseness to it; it’s structured, it’s planned out. It also reflects a religious culture; it conveys a sense of well-being. It’s a kind of religious thanksgiving, of living the good life, of making it. It’s abundance, it’s not rotting fruit. There are no bruises on the peaches.”

    6. “Still Life With Fruit, Cakes and Wine”

    by Raphaelle Peale (American), oil on panel (10 by 17 inches), 1821

    “Compared to the Roesen, there is this sense of moderation. It’s a little more restrained. Everything can be identified, too: the apple, the currants, the cinnamon bay leaves. That’s a Twelfth Knight cake, where you hide the little bean and the pea inside, to determine who will be the king and who will be the queen.

    “Peale was the son of Charles Willson Peale, probably one of the most famous Philadelphia artists. He named his sons after famous artists; talk about living up to your name. He was always telling his son, ‘Why don’t you go into portraiture?’

    “But Peale painted about 150 still lifes; around 50 of them still exist. A lot of them are these sort of quiet compositions, with little Christmas cakes, and fruits and nuts. It’s a lovely little painting, and it’s the flip side, really, of the Roesen, which is about overabundance, about ‘Look at my wealth.’”

    7. “The Birthday Party”

    by John Singer Sargent (American), oil on canvas (24 by 30 inches), 1887

    “Look at how timeless this is. Birthday celebrations really haven’t changed much, have they? These are Sargent’s friends Albert Besnard and Charlotte Dubray – he was a painter, she was a sculptor – and their eldest son Robert Besnard; it was his sixth birthday.

    “Sargent was there for the occasion, and I treasure how he was able to capture this moment in this child’s life. It’s informal, it’s a snapshot, it’s candid, and I think that’s the real appeal, along with how quickly it was painted. And a cake, with candles!

    “I looked up the history of birthday cake. People have been making cakes since the Romans and before, but as far as cake with candles on top, that’s from 18th-century Germany. The scene is just so totally modern. If you take away the mom and the dad – their dress, his facial hair – it’s such a contemporary scene.”

    8. “Still Life With Pheasants and Plovers”

    by Claude Monet (French), oil on canvas (27 by 35 inches), 1879

    “Monet painted this right after the death of his first wife, Camille.

    It was right around the time he was questioning if he wanted to still be associated with the Impressionists, and philosophically questioning what his next step should be. He painted the pheasant series – there were seven of them – and then a trio of fruit, and it was kind of a one-off period for him. He knocked them out for ready sale.

    “It’s a very careful rendering, and it’s actually much closer to Chardin and other French 18th-century artists and their intense realism, rather than what we see over here (pointing to Monet’s luminous “Grainstack, Sun in the Mist,” 1891). What’s interesting is you have this sense of ambiguity. Where is it? Is it in the kitchen, or the dining room, or the back hall? The birds haven’t been dressed yet, but other than that you can’t really tell where they have been; there’s no blood.”

    9. “Carcass of Beef”

    by Chaim Soutine (Russian), oil on canvas (32 by 46 inches), 1925

    “Soutine was dirt poor. He hung out in Paris with Modigliani and drank, and smoked hash; they led this really dissolute lifestyle. He rented this studio, it was almost a barn, and it had butcher hooks attached. He had gone to the Louvre, and he had seen Rembrandt’s famous ox (“The Slaughtered Ox,” 1655), that big beautiful carcass, and it completely inspired him. He went to the slaughterhouse, got a carcass of beef, hung it up in the studio/barn and started to paint.

    “There’s an anecdote by his model. She said that big flies starting swarming and the neighbors started to complain because of the horrible stink. When the health authorities came, Soutine actually hid, and the model had to talk to them. She said something like, ‘Look, he’s not finished with these paintings’ – he painted six of these – so they worked out a deal, where he would inject the beef with formaldehyde, so he could continue to work.

    “After four or five days, the beef started drying out and losing its color, so he and his model went back to the slaughterhouse, got buckets of blood and he used it to paint the carcass, to give it that freshly killed look. It’s totally crazy, right? But it’s a fabulous story.

    “Then you look at the technique, and it’s early Expressionism. It’s about color and feeling. If you look at Rembrandt’s ‘Ox,’ it’s pretty formal, but this is just about blood. And gristle. And color. And evoking the sense of this ripped-up beef. It’s pretty monumental.”

    Category: Cookware Pans  Tags: ,  Comments off

    A visual feast

    You can find food not onlyin restaurants and markets, but also inside museums. Before the weather keeps us outdoors for months, take a spin through the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and find out what’s cooking on the walls.

    When it comes to paintings of festive, candle-covered birthday cakes, or a seafood dinner that looks good enough to eat, curator Erika Holmquist-Wall is the ultimate insider docent. Follow along as she guides us on a special up-close-and-personal tour of food-related treasures in the museum’s permanent collection. These nine aren’t the only pieces of food-related art at the museum. See if you can find the others. Admission? It’s free.

    1. “Allegory of the Four Elements”

    by Cornelis Jacobsz Delff (Dutch), oil on panel (28 by 40 inches), circa 1600

    “To do a food tour, we should probably start with cookware, right?” said Holmquist-Wall. “This is the earliest still life in the collection, and it’s really early for a Dutch still life. When we acquired it in 2002, we took it at face value for what it was: a simple, straightforward kitchen still life. It’s what Delff was known for.

    “But if you look closely, you realize that it’s probably an allegory of the four elements. You have vegetables depicting the Earth, fish for water, birds for air and metal for fire. We don’t know a lot about Delff. This is all he painted: still lifes. He made a name for himself painting these incredible pots and pans. You pick one thing, and you do it well, right? I’d love to have this cookware in my kitchen. The surfaces are incredible; they look as if they were hammered yesterday, which is pretty amazing, considering this was painted more than 400 years ago.”

    2. “Still Life”

    by Pieter Claesz (Dutch), oil on panel (27 by 35 inches), 1643

    “Look across this picture, and you’re like, ‘I want some lobster, I’m really hankering.’ It’s a celebration of the senses, and creating desire. This is a pretty high-end, unusual meal, particularly since at that time the Dutch were eating cheese and butter at every single meal. The lemon was imported from the Mediterranean, there’s lobster and crab, and there’s a suggestion that the beaker, with its different levels, might be a drinking game.

    “Claesz painted hundreds of these. There’s a monograph of his work, with page after page of these various setups with the glasses. In the 17th century, painters in different cities specialized in different scenes; it was all carefully broken down.

    “Claesz was from Haarlem, where it was all about food. In Utrecht, you have all flowers and fruit. In the Hague it was fish markets. These pictures were created for ready sale for the households who were suddenly making all of this money with the Dutch East India Co. They were probably the first original artworks for the middle class.”

    3. “Still Life With Fruits, Foliage and Insects”

    by Abraham Mignon (Dutch), oil on canvas (23 by 19 inches), 1669

    “It’s pretty, but you start looking closer, and eeeuh: Insects!

    Rotting fruit! Mignon was pretty devout. He was a deacon at his church as well as a painter, so of course all of his stuff is going to be layered with Christian symbolism. You know, one bad grape spoils the bunch, or eluding to the transience of life with the butterflies and caterpillars. To hang this picture of decaying fruit in your house, it’s sending a message, right? Seize the day, life is transient, your mortality is limited.”

    4. “The Asparagus Vendor”

    by Pieter de Hooch (Dutch), oil on canvas (30 by 41 inches), 1675-1680

    “This represents a typical middle-class interior, and it’s all pretty telling. Here’s a market girl at the door, selling asparagus, which I imagine was probably something of a luxury item. The very fancy wooden cabinet is covered with a sheet to protect it from day-to-day scratches. She’s the lady of the house, given her jewelry and her headdress. He is wearing a kimono. That’s the influence of the Dutch East India Co. and its forays into the Far East, bringing back all these foreign luxury goods. It became quite fashionable for Dutch men to don themselves in these robes.”

    5. “Abundant Fruit”

    by Severin Roesen (German-American), oil on canvas (21 by 26 inches), 1858

    “Here we are in 19th-century America, and when you think about it, 19th-century America and 17th-century Holland are pretty similar, politically, culturally and economically. Both had a lot of people making all this new wealth and commissioning paintings for their homes. So artists like Roesen just cranked out these still-life pictures for ready sale for these new middle-class homes.

    “It’s really American, this painting. Look how formally it’s arranged.

    There isn’t a kind of looseness to it; it’s structured, it’s planned out. It also reflects a religious culture; it conveys a sense of well-being. It’s a kind of religious thanksgiving, of living the good life, of making it. It’s abundance, it’s not rotting fruit. There are no bruises on the peaches.”

    6. “Still Life With Fruit, Cakes and Wine”

    by Raphaelle Peale (American), oil on panel (10 by 17 inches), 1821

    “Compared to the Roesen, there is this sense of moderation. It’s a little more restrained. Everything can be identified, too: the apple, the currants, the cinnamon bay leaves. That’s a Twelfth Knight cake, where you hide the little bean and the pea inside, to determine who will be the king and who will be the queen.

    “Peale was the son of Charles Willson Peale, probably one of the most famous Philadelphia artists. He named his sons after famous artists; talk about living up to your name. He was always telling his son, ‘Why don’t you go into portraiture?’

    “But Peale painted about 150 still lifes; around 50 of them still exist. A lot of them are these sort of quiet compositions, with little Christmas cakes, and fruits and nuts. It’s a lovely little painting, and it’s the flip side, really, of the Roesen, which is about overabundance, about ‘Look at my wealth.’”

    7. “The Birthday Party”

    by John Singer Sargent (American), oil on canvas (24 by 30 inches), 1887

    “Look at how timeless this is. Birthday celebrations really haven’t changed much, have they? These are Sargent’s friends Albert Besnard and Charlotte Dubray – he was a painter, she was a sculptor – and their eldest son Robert Besnard; it was his sixth birthday.

    “Sargent was there for the occasion, and I treasure how he was able to capture this moment in this child’s life. It’s informal, it’s a snapshot, it’s candid, and I think that’s the real appeal, along with how quickly it was painted. And a cake, with candles!

    “I looked up the history of birthday cake. People have been making cakes since the Romans and before, but as far as cake with candles on top, that’s from 18th-century Germany. The scene is just so totally modern. If you take away the mom and the dad – their dress, his facial hair – it’s such a contemporary scene.”

    8. “Still Life With Pheasants and Plovers”

    by Claude Monet (French), oil on canvas (27 by 35 inches), 1879

    “Monet painted this right after the death of his first wife, Camille.

    It was right around the time he was questioning if he wanted to still be associated with the Impressionists, and philosophically questioning what his next step should be. He painted the pheasant series – there were seven of them – and then a trio of fruit, and it was kind of a one-off period for him. He knocked them out for ready sale.

    “It’s a very careful rendering, and it’s actually much closer to Chardin and other French 18th-century artists and their intense realism, rather than what we see over here (pointing to Monet’s luminous “Grainstack, Sun in the Mist,” 1891). What’s interesting is you have this sense of ambiguity. Where is it? Is it in the kitchen, or the dining room, or the back hall? The birds haven’t been dressed yet, but other than that you can’t really tell where they have been; there’s no blood.”

    9. “Carcass of Beef”

    by Chaim Soutine (Russian), oil on canvas (32 by 46 inches), 1925

    “Soutine was dirt poor. He hung out in Paris with Modigliani and drank, and smoked hash; they led this really dissolute lifestyle. He rented this studio, it was almost a barn, and it had butcher hooks attached. He had gone to the Louvre, and he had seen Rembrandt’s famous ox (“The Slaughtered Ox,” 1655), that big beautiful carcass, and it completely inspired him. He went to the slaughterhouse, got a carcass of beef, hung it up in the studio/barn and started to paint.

    “There’s an anecdote by his model. She said that big flies starting swarming and the neighbors started to complain because of the horrible stink. When the health authorities came, Soutine actually hid, and the model had to talk to them. She said something like, ‘Look, he’s not finished with these paintings’ – he painted six of these – so they worked out a deal, where he would inject the beef with formaldehyde, so he could continue to work.

    “After four or five days, the beef started drying out and losing its color, so he and his model went back to the slaughterhouse, got buckets of blood and he used it to paint the carcass, to give it that freshly killed look. It’s totally crazy, right? But it’s a fabulous story.

    “Then you look at the technique, and it’s early Expressionism. It’s about color and feeling. If you look at Rembrandt’s ‘Ox,’ it’s pretty formal, but this is just about blood. And gristle. And color. And evoking the sense of this ripped-up beef. It’s pretty monumental.”

    Category: Cookware Pots  Tags: ,  Comments off

    Finding homes: Donated furniture helps vets settle in with new digs

    <!–Saxotech Paragraph Count: 9
    –>

    As Reggie Howard and Larry Bales hefted a table onto a pickup truck tailgate in the parking lot at First Wesleyan Church Sunday, Howard looked it over with approval.

    “I might like to purchase this,” he said, laughing.

    The reason the simple table made him smile was because he knew it was going to someone who needed it. Howard is a peer support specialist at the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Part of his job is to help veterans find homes.

    The table that U.S. Navy veteran Howard and U.S. Army veteran Bales were looking at is part of an effort to help formerly homeless veterans fill their new homes with furnishings that make a house a home. Furniture and other home items, such as dinnerware, have been arriving at First Wesleyan since Rev. Bob Zuhl wrote a letter to the Enquirer imploring the public to help out.

    The senior pastor got involved when he learned of a voucher program at the VA that helps veterans find homes. Howard said there are more than 170 such vouchers being used in the Battle Creek area, and more have been approved by the federal government.

    Veterans, including those returning home from combat, can use the vouchers to find a one-bedroom apartment at a complex that agrees to work with the program. That’s a big help for a group of people that Howard said could be described as “lost” in many cases.

    “One of the things about our housing program is that a veteran can have zero income and we still house them,” Howard said. “One of the foremost things we have to do is house our veterans. Then after that, we deal with the other issues, the substance abuse, and we deal with any medical condition.”

    Of course, transitioning from a battlefield to a homeless situation, and then again to a new place to live, is easier with a bed to lay on or a refrigerator in which to put food. That’s why Zuhl wrote the letter, which he saw as fitting in with First Wesleyan’s ongoing campaign to help veterans through its military committee and church member Bales.

    “I don’t think the people are aware of that,” Zuhl said, referring to the fact that there are veterans living on the streets in Calhoun County. “It’s to our shame that we haven’t just let the people know.”

    Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off