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Lemon Meringue Pie

Dr Doolittle has been ‘collecting’ lemons! There must be over a dozen sitting in the fruit bowl this morning, he says he’s going to be preserving them…. I was very tempted to remake the recipe I’m sharing with you today, just to take some more photographs- but I thought better of it!

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Yesterday was Thanksgiving and although I’m not American, I love the idea of giving thanks. I also love the idea of a gathering of people celebrating life with food. I must admit when I think of American desserts, I think of pies; pumpkin pie, apple pie, mississippi mud pie and the one I’m bring to Fiesta Friday, lemon meringue pie.

The base of the pie is ‘pate sucree’, a sweet pastry.

Ingredients:
110g plain flour
Pinch of salt
55g softened unsalted butter, diced
2 egg yolks
55g caster sugar
1 drop fesh vanilla

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the butter into the centre and work into the flour until it forms breadcrumbs and add in the sugar. Add the egg bit by bit and stir in the vanilla. Work the mixture until the pastry comes together. Pop the pastry into the fridge until ready to use.

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Lemon Curd:
50g butter
110g caster sugar
100ml lemon juice and zest of 3 lemons
5 egg yolks

Meringue
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
225g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease a 20cm flan tin.

Roll out the pate sucree and use to line the tin. Prick the base well with a fork, then cover with parchment paper and place baking beans on top. ‘Blind bake’ in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove paper and beans and pop back in for a further 5 minutes.

To make the curd, melt the butter in a heavy based pan on a low heat. Add in the lemon juice and zest and blend well. On a low heat, slowly add the eggs and sugar and stir until a custard is formed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, this will thicken as it cools. Spoon into the flan case and spread out.

Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl for a minute, then add the sugar and salt bit by bit. Place the meringue onto top of the pie and place in an oven at 160 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

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Next time, i’ll make sure that the meringue is whipped until it’d fluffier and that the top is slightly burnished…

Melissa xx

Lemon yogurt cake

This post was all ready to go for this morning, but due to the horrific weather conditions the broadband has only just started working again (1st world problems ehh…)!

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We’re safe, the dog is safe and as I type this, the house is still dry. However with the stream exploding at the side of the house and the main river rising quickly, dry land is disappearing fast!

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Anyway, on a brighter note I’ve made another store cupboard cake. I had lemons sitting in the fruit bowl that wouldn’t last much longer, and too much greek yogurt in the fridge! I decided to make a light fluffy lemon yogurt cake with a sugary lemon crust.

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For the cake
250g unsalted butter
275g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
275g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla extract
2 lemons, finely grated zest
Juice of 1/2- 1 lemon (depending on juice content!)
250g Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve
2tsp icing sugar

For the lemon drizzle
2 lemons, zest and juice
150g golden caster sugar

Butter and line the base and sides of a 23cm round, springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C.

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Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until fluffy and light. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well between each addition.

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Fold in the flour and salt to make a smooth batter. Fold in the vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice and 100g of the Greek yogurt.

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Pour into the tin, smoothing the top and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until golden and springy on top.

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Spike the cake all over with a skewer.
Combine the lemon zest, juice and sugar for the drizzle and pour over the warmed cake.

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Set aside to cool completely in the tin.

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Stir the icing sugar into the remainin 150g Greek yogurt. Serve slices of cooled cake with spoonfuls of the sweetened yogurt.

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I’m rushing to Angie’s for Fiesta Friday because the rain has made me late! Stay safe…

Melissa xx

Rainy Day Banana Bread

It’s been raining. I don’t know why I’m suprised, this is Ireland after all! The rain has been pounding down hard for the last few days and the river that runs infront of The Glen House is rising fast. The ground around the house is slippy and soggy, everything is just a bit yucky.

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What was needed was something comforting to go with a cuppa while the wood burning stove was blazing. With 4 ripe bananas sat in the fruit bowl, the answer was staring me in the face! I love banana bread, but I really love banana bread with the addition of dried fruit and nuts.

I pulled out a tried and tested recipe from Nigella’s book ‘How to be a Domestic Godess’; I swapped the walnuts for pecans and hey presto, rum, raisin and pecan banana bread!

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Ingredients :
100 g sultanas
75ml rum
175 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
125 g unsalted butter (melted)
150 g caster sugar
2 large eggs
4 very ripe bananas (mashed)
60g chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

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Put the sultanas and rum in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.

Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC.

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Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, combine well.

In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas.

Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the pecans, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit.

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Scrape into a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm) and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours.

When you think it’s ready, place a skewer into the centre and it should pull out clean. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.

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It’s Friday, so I’m bringing this loaf to Angie’s for Fiesta Friday, I might see you there?

Melissa xx

Crab apple and Elderberry jelly

There are crab apples growing in the Glen House garden. Last year I didn’t use them, I hadn’t a clue what to do with them. However this year, I begged the lovely people from Ballymaloe cookery school to share their crab apple jelly recipes with me. Twitter is great for that! image These small, sour ornamental fruit of the wild apple tree- crab apples are generally too tart to eat raw. They’re more commonly made into a sweet jelly to accompany roasted meats and game and are also used to make crab apple wine. image I adapted the recipe from Ballymaloe  for the quantities of crab apples I had. I mixed in some normal apples form the garden alongside the beautiful little purpley elderberries. image As the recipe suggested, the crab apple skins were left on and they were placed in a large pot with water. image As the apples and berries broke down the colour changed to a warm pinky plum. image The contents of the pot were poured and  pushed through a sieve. The juice was put back in the pot with a cinnamon stick wrapped in an orange peel and sugar was added. Very quickly the liquid thickend into a sticky jelly….. Ta-da!! image So, now I have homemade crab apple and elderberry jelly! I’m bringing these cute little jars to Angie’s for Fiesta Friday. image Melissa xx

Pear, almond and amaretto tart

Yesterday, I had a fruit bowl full of pears that were just sitting starring at me…. I came across Lorraine Pascale’s Pear, almond & amaretto tart. It sounded perfect, I fancied another tart in the kitchen after the delicious blackberry jam and apple tart last week!

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“This sweet treat is the perfect autumn dessert…. If you can’t find any ripe pears, tinned ones are just as nice” she states. I have changed her recipe slightly (I didn’t use a long tart tin) and I didn’t make the cream that she suggested, otherwise this is all her work!

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Ingredients:
375g pack of shortcrust pastry
100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
3 tbsp plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
1 medium egg
1 tbsp amaretto liqueur
411g tin of pear halves or 4 very ripe soft pears

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180°C / Gas Mark 4.

Unravel the ready-rolled pastry and use it to line a flan tin. Roll it out a touch more, if necessary, to fit in perfectly. If using a block of pastry, then roll out to just bigger than the tin on a floured surface and use in the same way. Either way, be really careful to not stretch the pastry or pull it, as this will make it shrink in the tin when it bakes.

Cut off the excess pastry with a sharp knife and then sit the tin on a baking sheet and pop in the fridge to harden up a bit while you prepare the filling.

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Mix the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl either by hand or using a hand-held electric whisk (or in a freestanding electric mixer) until it is really soft and well combined. Then beat in the ground almonds and plain flour. Crack the egg in, add the amaretto liqueur, and then beat it hard so everything is combined. Remove the lined tin from the fridge and add the almond filling, spreading it out evenly so it is nice and smooth on top.

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Drain the tinned pears well in a colander and then on kitchen paper. Or peel, halve and decore the fresh pears, if using. Arrange the pear halves, cut side down, in the almond filling.

Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until the filling is nicely puffed up and golden.

Check the tart is cooked. The pastry will be crisp and golden and the almond filling should have puffed up a little around the pears and be golden brown and spongy. Stick a skewer or point of a sharp knife into the centre of the filling to check it is done. It will be just a little damp from the moisture of the pears, but shouldn’t be really wet like the original raw mixture.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before carefully removing it from the tin. Then simply slide the tart off the base onto plate or board.

I have to admit that I ought to have rolled the pastry out more; the base seemed thin and crispy, but the sides were far to thick.

I also should have dusted the tart with icing sugar before I took the photographs!

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This tart marks our 1st anniversary in The Glen House, I can’t believe we’ve been here a year! Maybe this coming year we’ll sort out the box room? Ahem!!!

It’s also birthday week at The Glen House- Dr Doolittle and I both celebrate getting another year younger over the next few days…

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If anyone needs me, I’ll be counting out ALL the candles for Dr Doolittle’s birthday cake!!!

Melissa xx

Scones, my way

Every now and again I really enjoy a good scone! Not the bland, boring, dry type but the crunchy topped, light, fruit filled type.

I’m not gonna talk about the referendum BUT…. Seemingly scones originated from Scotland but have become known around around the world as part of a typically English afternoon tea.

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Ingredients:
450g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
50g butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
250 ml milk
100g raspberries
100g blackberries
1 egg and extra sugar for topping

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Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.

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Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs and then add the sugar.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, stir together using a round bladed knife until it forms a soft dough.

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At this stage I split the dough in two, and to one part I added raspberries and the other I added blackberries.

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I rounded each dough on a lined baking tray and flatted. I then sliced through the dough the get 6 triangles. I finished them off with beaten egg and a generous sprinkle of caster sugar.

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Bung them into the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. I took mine out just before this and separated the triangles to give the insides a crunchy finish.

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Serve split open, filled with butter and jam or clotted cream and jam and a nice cup of tea! I’m bringing these little beauties to Angie’s place for Fiesta Friday 33! See you there…

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Melissa xx

Fruity Garden Tarts- 100th post!

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I can’t quite believe that I’ve written 100 blog posts in just 11 months. I’ve been visited thousands of times by people in 62 countries- lucky me!

To celebrate I’m using my garden grown produce to make some fruity free-form tarts to bring to Angie’s for Fiesta Friday.

The blackberries have really taken off in the garden, so as well as packing up the freezer, Dr Doolittle has made several scrumptious jars of blackberry jam. The apples are back too, so I picked a couple especially for these tarts. Oooh, has anyone got any elderberry recipes? We’ve got plenty of those popping up and I’d love some new ideas!

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BLACKBERRY JAM & APPLE TARTS

INGREDIENTS

400g plain flour
200g cool butter, cut into cubes
50g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp blackberry jam (I used a jar of Dr Doolittle’s homemade blackberry jam)
200g of blackberries (a small handful per tart)
2-3 apples, cored and chopped
Brown sugar
Cinnamon

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INSTRUCTIONS

Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter to make ‘breadcrumbs’. Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg yolks then pour into the flour mixture. Mix gently with a round-bladed knife then mould by hand into a soft dough. If necessary, add a little cold water. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out.

Preheat the oven to 190°, I turned the rayburn off!

Roll out the pastry and cut into 6 equal circles (I cut around a soup bowl) and place onto a lined baking tray.

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Spread blackberry jam over the bottom of the pastry. Place a handful of berries on each circle. Dice the apples into small cubes and scatter evenly over the pastry, leaving a border to allow for a boarder.

Brush the pastry borders with beaten egg or milk and then pinch up the pastry to create a wall around the tart.

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Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and cinnamon.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Serve with icecream or cream or custard… Or just eat as it is!

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Melissa xx

Remember you can join me on Twitter @the_glen_house

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Garden grown blackberry crumble

It’s that time of year again, the time when beautiful little blackberries start popping up in abundance in Irish hedgerows.

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Luckily, they seem to be making a staggered appearance around The Glen House garden, giving us plenty of time to pick them. Just to note, we’re not picking them all, there are PLENTY left for the birds!

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So this week I’ve decided to bring a blackberry and pear crumble to Angie’s place for Fiesta Friday.

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My favourite crumble recipe is from Rachel Allen’s book Bake! It adds oats to a traditional crumble mixture to give it a really crunchie texture. This is my version…..

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Ingredients:
400g blackberries
2 pears
150g plain flour
75g butter CHILLED
25g porridge oats
75g soft brown sugar

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Place the flour in a large bowl, add in the butter and using your fingertips rub it in until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Then add in the sugar and oats and combine (I used a spoon, so that I wouldn’t warm the butter up).

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Lay the blackberries and chopped up pear in a 1 litre pie or oven dish, then sprinkle with the crumble mixture.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on top.

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I served mine with greek yogurt, but custard or icecream would be just as yummy!

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I stumbled upon a poem by the wonderful Irish poet Seamus Heaney that sums up this time of year….

Blackberry Picking
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking.
Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

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Melissa xx

Frozen Strawberries

Ahhhhhh, I’ve just lost this post as I went to post it! How bizarre!! This is the re-hashed version.

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So…. Where was I?

Firstly, I was thanking Angie over at the Novice Gardener for ‘featuring’ me at Fiesta Friday this week. Most Fridays, I try and attend the blogger party bringing with me all sorts of goodies. Last week I brought tales of my adventures in the Netherlands along with some Dutch bar snacks. Angie’s party’s are a great way of meeting new bloggers, sharing ideas and discovering lots of new recipes.

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This week I was going to bring a gorgeous frozen strawberry yogurt, courtesy of a Mr Jamie Oliver. I had thrown a punnet of strawberries into the freezer the morning we flew to the Netherlands, so they were perfect for this recipe (or so I thought). I also had a tub of Greek yogurt nearing its use by date and some store cupboard orange blossom honey.

Jamie’s Ingredients:

  • 1 x 500g pack frozen berries
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • 1 x 500g tub natural yoghurt
  • 3-4 tablespoons runny honey

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So, the first mistake I made- I left the stalks on the strawberries, instead of taking them off before I froze them! DOH!

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The second mistake was to leave them whole. I should have quartered them before I froze them! OOPS!

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Anyway, I threw the tub of yogurt and some honey into the food mixer and whizzed. I then added the strawberries and whizzed, and whizzed and whizzed to try and break them down. It took ages.

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Eventually, the strawberries broke down, but so did the yogurt mixture. By the time I’d finished the mixture was all runny, it looked NOTHING like the photographs in Jamie’s 30 minute meal book.

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I served Dr Doolittle a portion poured over a meringue, and I ‘drank’ mine! It was cool, fresh and creamy, with a hint of strawberry- quite strange really.

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The photographs don’t do the colour justice, it was a gorgeous reddy-pinky colour.

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At least after all the messing around, it tasted ok…. Just gutted that it wasn’t perfect!

Melissa xx

Chocolate and cherries

I needed cake…. No, ok I didn’t need it, I just fancied a slice. So with stuff in the pantry and the fridge I made a delicious red velvet inspired black forest gateaux!!

The basic cake recipe can be found on a previous post (red velvet sponge cake).

As the rayburn was too small to fit 3 cake tins in at once, so I put double the amount in one tin. When the sponges had cooled, I sliced the larger sponge into two- thus giving me 3 sponges!

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I grabbed a jar of morrello cherries and some cointreau from the pantry and a tub of double cream!

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Then I began to layer up the cake….
Cake

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Cream

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Cherries

Repeat this again, finishing with the best looking sponge on top.

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Dust with icing sugar to finish.

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My store cupboard ingredients may not be the healthiest, but they do taste fantastic!

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It’s amazing what natural light and some white props do to a redy-pink chocolate cake!

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Simple. Easy. Delicious.

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Melissa xx

Follow me on Twitter @the_glen_house

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