Thursday, 28 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HARD AND SOFT WOODS



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What is the difference between hard and soft woods? Is it just the density of the wood, or does the species of the tree matter?
The terms 'hard wood' and 'soft wood' are used in the woodworking and timber industries to differentiate between types of wood. The distinction between hardwood and softwood relates to the type of tree from which the wood is produced, specifically the type of reproduction the tree carries out.

Softwood
Softwood is the term used for wood produced from conifers, which are evergreen and tend to keep their needles all year round. Conifers are gymnosperm trees, meaning their seeds have no covering. Gymnosperms reproduce by forming cones which are wind pollinated and drop naked seeds to the ground.

Evergreens tend to be less dense than deciduous trees, and the wood is therefore easier ('softer') to cut. Softwood is typically less expensive compared to hardwood due to its faster rate of growth. Lighter in appearance than hardwood, with distinct annular rings, it is resinous and splits easily.

It is widely used as a material for building homes/cabins and furniture. Examples of softwood-producing trees include pine, spruce, cedar, fir, larch, Douglas-fir, hemlock, cypress, redwood, and yew.

Hardwood
Hardwood is produced from broad-leaved, mostly deciduous trees. These trees shed their leaves in winter when the temperature falls and are dormant until the spring.

They are angiosperm trees, producing covered or enclosed seeds or fruits such as apples or acorns. Angiosperms usually form flowers to reproduce which are pollinated by birds and insects.

Hardwoods tend to be slower growing and are usually denser than softwoods. This makes them harder to cut, and therefore sturdier. The wood is closely grained and darker in appearance, with less obvious annular rings. Hardwood takes longer to grow than softwood and so is typically more expensive. However, not all hardwood is hard, as some woods like balsa wood are less dense than most softwoods.

Hardwood is ideal for construction, furniture, flooring, and utensils. Examples of hardwood trees include holly, boxwood, Holm oak, mahogany, teak, walnut, oak, ash, elm, aspen, poplar, balsa, birch and maple. 

What is the difference between a conifer and a deciduous tree?

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIBERNATION AND SLEEP?




Hibernation, or winter sleep, is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in which some endothermic (warm blooded) animals pass the winter in cold latitudes. It is characterised by low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and a low metabolic rate.


Previous definitions of hibernation commonly referred to a long-term state in which body temperature is significantly decreased, metabolism slows drastically and the animal enters a coma like condition that takes some time to recover from. The problem with this definition is that animals such as bears are excluded because their body temperature drops only slightly and they awake relatively easily. The term hibernation has been redefined, and is now applied based on metabolic suppression rather than on a decline in body temperature.

Often associated with cold temperatures, the purpose of hibernation is to conserve energy during a period when conditions are adverse such as a scarcity of food. Before entering hibernation an animal needs to store enough energy to last the entire winter. Animals will either eat a large amount of food to store as energy in fat deposits, or alternatively catch food to store. To save energy hibernating animals will decrease their metabolic rate, resulting in a decreased body temperature. Hibernation may last several days, weeks, or months depending on the species, ambient temperature, time of year, and individual animal's body condition.

Hibernation during the summer months is known as aestivation (summer sleep). It is a similar condition in which other species pass periods of heat or drought in warm latitudes.

Hibernation and aestivation are believed to have originated in response to a regular and recurrent failure of food supply or of other factors essential to existence due to the seasonal onset of cold or excessively dry hot weather. They allow non-migratory animals to live through unfavourable climatic conditions that which otherwise end in starvation or desiccation were the animals to maintain their normal state of activity.

Hibernation in reptiles is sometimes called brumation. It differs from mammalian hibernation because reptiles are cold-blooded and can't control their own body temperature, so they need to spend the winter in a place that will stay warm enough. Torpor is used as an umbrella term to describe all the various types of temperature- and metabolism-reducing functions. More commonly, it's used to describe short-term periods of reduced temperature that occur as often as every day and only for a few hours at a time.

Just a long nap?
The key difference between hibernation and sleeping is that hibernating animals aren't just sleeping. They undergo drastic physiological changes. The most significant element of hibernation is a drop in body temperature, which can sometimes be as much as 18 C. The vital signs of a hibernating animal are very different from the vital signs of an awake animal. When an animal awakes from hibernation, it exhibits many signs of sleep deprivation and needs time over the next few days to recover.

There are physiological aspects of sleep that are similar to hibernation, such as a reduced heart and breathing rate and lowered body temperature, but these changes are very slight compared to hibernation. Sleep is also pretty easy to break out of; if you are awakened from even deep sleep you can be fully awake within several minutes. Sleep is a mostly mental change and is primarily characterized by changes in brain activity. 

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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STEW AND A CASSEROLE?





Both stews and casseroles are ways of cooking meat slowly. The meat is cut up fairly small and cooked in a liquid such as stock, wine, water or cider. This liquid is absorbed by the meat to make it more tender.

They can be left to simmer slowly without attention from the cook. Both consist of meat and vegetables, cooked slowly over a long period of time making it ideal for cheaper cuts of meat. The slower cooking makes the meat more tender, no matter what part of the animal it comes from.

Today the two terms are totally interchangeable, but they are often differentiated by how they are cooked.  It is often accepted that a stew is made on the top of a cooker with heat being applied directly to the underneath of the pot, whilst a casserole cooks inside an oven with heat circulating all around the pot.

Stew
Cooked with the heat applied from the bottom, stews would have traditionally been cooked in a large pot on the hob or suspended over a open fire.  Stewing is a slow method of cooking, especially suitable for tenderising tough meat. 

Leftover cuts of meat and vegetables would be continuously added to the pot over several days and allowed to 'stew'.  This was often used as a method to ensure that the stew could be stretched out to provide many meals during the week.

Casserole

A casserole is the name of the pot used for cooking and slowly has become known as the cooking method as well. Casserole is a large dish with a fitted lid, used for slow cooking. Traditionally a casserole dish is cooked in the oven.

Braising, like casseroling, is done in the oven, but the meat is cooked in much larger pieces and only a minimum of liquid is added, so that the meat actually cooks in the steam for the most part.

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Saturday, 23 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NEON LIGHT AND FLUORESCENT LIGHT?



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Both these types of lighting are popular, but what are the differences between them?

Neon light
Neon lights are made of long, narrow glass tubes which are often bent into all sorts of shapes. The tube of a neon light can spell out a word and so are often used for advertising signs. Neon tubes emit light in a range of different colours.

The way a neon light works is simple. Inside the glass tube there is a gas like neon, argon or krypton at low pressure. At both ends of the tube there are metal electrodes. When you apply a high voltage to the electrodes, the neon gas ionizes, and electrons flow through the gas. These electrons excite the neon atoms and cause them to emit light that we can see.

The light of a neon tube is the coloured light that the neon atoms give off directly. Neon emits red light when energized in this way. Other gases emit other colours.

Fluorescent light
A fluorescent light is most often a long, straight tube that produces white light. They are often used in offices, stores and some home fixtures.


A fluorescent light works in a similar way. Inside a fluorescent light is low-pressure mercury vapour which emits ultraviolet light when ionized. The inside of a fluorescent light is coated with a phosphor (a substance that can accept energy in one form and emit the energy in the form of visible light). In a fluorescent lamp, the phosphor accepts the energy of ultraviolet photons and emits visible photons.

The light we see from a fluorescent tube is the light given off by the phosphor that coats the inside of the tube. The phosphor fluoresces when energized, hence the name. 

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLD AND FLU?


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Colds and flu both share some of the same symptoms such as sneezing, coughing and a sore throat, but they are caused by different viruses. There are around 200 viruses that cause colds and three that cause flu. There are many strains of these flu viruses, and the vaccine changes every year to protect against the most common ones. Flu can be much more serious than a cold.

Cold and flu viruses are spread by droplets that are sneezed or coughed out by an infected person. Other people can breathe in these droplets or transfer the droplets to their eyes or nose on their fingers.

Colds
Symptoms of a cold include:
    • runny nose, beginning with clear mucus that develops into thicker, green mucus as the cold progresses
    • blocked nose
    • sore throat
    • sneezing
    • cough
People with a cold may also suffer with a mild fever, earache, tiredness and headache. Symptoms develop over one or two days and gradually get better after a few days. Some colds can last for up to two weeks. A cold is most contagious during the early stages when the person has a runny nose and sore throat.

Flu
Flu usually comes on much more quickly than a cold, and symptoms include:
    • sudden fever of 38-40°C (100-104°F)
    • muscle aches and pains
    • sweating
    • feeling exhausted and needing to lie down
    • dry, chesty cough
    • sneezing
Flu symptoms appear one to three days after infection and most people recover within a week, although you will feel tired for longer. A severe cold can also cause muscle aches and fever, so it can be hard to tell the difference.

Some people need to take extra care as they're more at risk of serious chest complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. People over 65 are more at risk of complications. People under 65, including children, are more at risk of complications if they have serious heart or chest complaints, serious kidney disease or liver disease, diabetes, lowered immunity due to disease or medical treatment, had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA).  Pregnant women are also included in this risk group.

The best protection against the flu virus is a vaccination, and everyone in an at-risk group is eligible for a free flu jab.

Treatment
Protect yourself and others against colds and flu by coughing or sneezing into a tissue, throwing a used tissue away as soon as possible, washing your hands as soon as possible and having a flu jab every year if you're in an at-risk group.

If you're generally fit and healthy, you can usually manage the symptoms of a cold or flu yourself without seeing a doctor. Look after yourself by resting, drinking non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration and avoiding strenuous activity. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can relieve aches and pains.

Whether it’s a cold or flu, get medical help if you have a chronic condition (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), or you have a very high fever as well as an unusually severe headache or abdominal or chest pain.

Monday, 18 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DEVON AND CORNISH CREAM TEA?



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A cream tea (also known as a Devonshire tea, Devon cream tea or Cornish cream tea) is a pot of tea taken with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. But what is the difference between a Cornish Cream Tea and a Devon Cream Tea?


There are many debates between Cornwall and Devon about the true origin of the “Cream Tea”. A campaign was launched at the Devon County Show in May 2010 to have the name "Devon cream tea" protected within the European Union under Protected Designation of Origin rules. This sparked fierce debate over the origin of the cream tea in the West.

Both Devon and Cornish teas have the same ingredients of tea, scones, jam and clotted cream. Traditionally it is important that the scones be warm, ideally, freshly baked. The cream should be clotted rather than whipped cream, and the jam strawberry rather than any other variety. Butter is generally not included.

It is how the scone is assembled that subtly differs. The difference is whether the cream is added to the scone first, followed by the jam or if the jam is added to the scone first, followed by the cream.

Devon cream tea
The name "Devonshire tea" comes from the county of Devon, England. The Devon method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream, and then add strawberry jam on top.

Cornish Cream Tea
The name "Cornish Cream Tea" comes from the county of Cornwall, England. In Cornwall, the scone is first spread with strawberry jam, with the cream added as the topping.

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BUTTER AND MARGARINE?


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We seem to use butter and margarine interchangeably these days, and there are a mind boggling array of spreads available in the supermarket for us to choose. In the days when many of us 'Cant Believe its Not Butter' we are inundated with a variety of spreads in addition to butter that are low in all sorts of fats, reduce cholesterol or offer a variety of other health benefits.

The key difference between butter and margarine is that butter is derived from animal fat whilst margarine is derived from vegetable oil.

Butter
Butter is produced from the fatty cream of milk, usually cows' milk. This milk is churned causing the fat molecules suspended in the cream to cling together, which they settle to form a thick mass of butter. Salt may be added to the butter at this stage.

Butter has a creamier, fuller flavour than margarine, and is the more expensive product. However, because it is a dairy-based product, butter can become spoiled or rancid without the proper storage and refrigeration. This means that it is more difficult to spread butter when it has been refrigerated.

Churned butter is composed almost entirely of saturated fat, along with a significant amount of natural cholesterol. 

Margarine
Margarine was first a manufactured in 1869 as a substitute to butter. Liquid vegetable oil is solidified by passing hydrogen gas bubbles through the mixture. This produces a solid, buttery spread. Margarine has no cholesterol and tiny amounts of any saturated fat, instead containing polyunsaturated and trans fatty acids.

Many health experts consider trans fatty acids contained in margarine to be unhealthy due to their artery-clogging tendencies.

Margarine has a more subtle flavour than butter. Because margarine remains stable much longer than butter it retains its solid form much longer, although it should be refrigerated between uses. This means that it is easier to spread than butter which is the big advantage of margarine.

There are low fat, low salt or reduced cholesterol margarine spreads available that are healthier when used in combination with a low fat or low cholesterol diet. However, excess amounts of any margarine (or butter) is not healthy and will have an adverse effect on your health.


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Thursday, 14 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ENERGY EFFICIENT BULBS AND REGULAR ONES?



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We are encouraged to switch from traditional light bulbs to more efficient energy saving light bulbs. This seems a sensible way to help contribute to saving the planet. Until you look at the cost of replacing your bulbs. These new energy efficient light bulbs are much more expensive to buy, so are they really significantly more efficient than traditional light bulbs?


Traditional light bulbs are known as filament or incandescent light bulbs. They heat up a wire filament inside the bulb, causing the bulb to light. It converts very little of the electricity it uses into light, and most of it is wasted as heat. In fact ninety percent of the energy used to illuminate a regular bulb is spent on heat rather than light. The downside of a filament light bulb is its short life, lasting 1,000 hours or one year's typical use. Turning them on and off regularly shortens their lives even more. These traditional light bulbs also tend to shorten the life of light fittings and shades.

Energy efficient bulbs are do not waste so much energy on heat. There are a number of different kinds of low energy light bulbs available, including compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and flouresant bulbs or tubes.

One of the reasons why more people haven't switched to energy-efficient lighting is because they see them as more expensive. Often people base this assessment on the purchase price only, rather than the whole-life cost of a light bulb. In a typical home lighting accounts for around 10-20% of the electricity bill, but you can lower this proportion by installing energy efficient bulbs and save on your overall energy bill. Installing five low energy light bulbs will cost about £15 and could save you as much as £32 a year. 


Traditional bulbs have to be replaced much more often and they use five times the electricity of low energy light bulbs. Begin to think of light bulbs as one-off purchases that last many years, like a lamp itself, rather than something you simply throw away after a short time.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
In terms of energy efficiency, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs has more impact than anything else you can do. Nothing else comes anywhere near to this level of saving and improvement in efficiency. Compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs use only a fifth of the electricity compared to traditional light bulbs; in other words they are 400% more efficient.

Compact fluorescent bulbs come in a variety of shapes such as spiral, pear, golf-ball, globe, and candle. Covered shapes tend to have greater physical strength, as the fluorescent tube itself is hidden behind a layer of stronger glass. However this reduces their energy efficiency a little, sometimes being B rather than A rated (for comparison, incandescent bulbs are G rated). So, you should be able to find one to work with your existing light fittings.


When replacing an old-fashioned bulb with a CFL bulb, you need to use the one to five ratio . For example, if you are replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb, a CFL bulb of 20 watts is required. CFLs are commonly available up to 23 watts and can be found as low as 5 watts.

CFLs vary in their 'colour temperature', expressed in degrees Kelvin (K). Higher temperatures mean whiter light, cooler temperatures mean yellower light. Some low energy bulbs have a colour temperature which is 'daylight balanced', and this is thought to help people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
Light-emitting diodes (LED) light bulbs work when electrons are moved through a semi-conductive material. 

LED bulbs are the most expensive bulbs on the market, but they also last the longest. They last up to 25 times longer than a traditional filament bulb (up to 20 years), and cost significantly less to operate over the course of a year. LED lights have the advantage of reaching full illumination almost immediately, as well as being very compact. However, although they are good to replace low voltage halogen bulbs in the home they do not at present provide the quality of lighting that CFL light bulbs do. They are often used for security, garden or decorative lighting.

Fluorescent tubes
Fluorescent tubes are a source of efficient and effective lighting. Fluorescent tubes do have a limited life, although this will be several years. There is no foundation to the belief that fluorescent tubes use a huge amount of electricity when they are switched on. The extra electricity used is negligible.

If there are signs of flicker, or a tube looks as though it has failed, it is worth checking if you need a replacement 'starter' before you consider replacing the tube. A starter is a small cylinder with two small T shaped pins protruding from one end and only cost a couple of pounds.


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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

HOW TO MAKE PANCAKES


Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent. It is traditional on this day to eat pancakes.  


It is called Pancake Day because it is the day traditionally for eating pancakes.  Pancake recipes were a way to use up any stocks of milk, butter and eggs which were forbidden during the abstinence of Lent.  Thin, flat pancakes are made of batter and fried in a pan. Often they are sprinkled with sugar a dash of fresh lemon juice added, and the pancake is then rolled. 

Enjoy making pancakes at home following this recipe. 

Makes 4 large pancakes


Ingredients
2 eggs
200 ml milk
110 g / 4 oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
Oil for pan
Lemon
Sugar

Method
Place the flour and salt into a bowl, creating a well in the centre.  Crack the eggs into it and mix  together until they form a paste.  Gradually add the milk until smooth. 

Whisk the mixture together until it has the consistency of cream and place in the fridge for a least 30 minutes.

Place some oil into a frying pan on a high heat as pancakes cook quickly and require a very hot pan. 


Add 1/4 (50 ml) of your pancake mixture to the pan and tilt the pan to ensure you evenly cover the bottom.  Move the pan around to ensure the pancake doesn't stick to the bottom, and after 2 minutes flip the pancake over and cook for a further 2 minutes.   If you are not confident about flipping pancakes you can cheat by placing a plate over the frying pan and turning it upside down before returning it to the pan.

Add lemon and sugar to the pancake and serve. 

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WHEN IS PANCAKE DAY?



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Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent. It is traditional on this day to eat pancakes.

Shrove Tuesday occurs the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the the start of Lent and leads up to Easter Sunday. Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between 3 February and 9 March.

The name Shrove comes from the old word "shrive" which means to confess. On Shrove Tuesday, during the Middle Ages, people used to confess their sins so that they were forgiven before the season of Lent began. Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it's the last day before Lent. Throughout the United Kingdom, and in other countries too, people indulge themselves on foods that traditionally aren't allowed during Lent.

It is called Pancake Day because it is the day traditionally for eating pancakes.  Pancake recipes were a way to use up any stocks of milk, butter and eggs which were forbidden during the abstinence of Lent.  Thin, flat pancakes are made of batter and fried in a pan. Often they are sprinkled with sugar a dash of fresh lemon juice added, and the pancake is then rolled. 

The earliest records of pancakes and pancake tossing appeared in the fifteenth century when the pancakes were a little thicker than the modern pancake. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century and the influence of French cooking and their thin crepes that pancakes more as we know them now.

Shrove Tuesday will occur on these dates in coming years:

2013 — 12 February
2014 — 4 March
2015 — 17 February
2016 — 9 February
2017 — 28 February
2018 — 13 February
2019 — 5 March
2020 — 25 February
2021 — 16 February
2022 — 1 March


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Sunday, 10 February 2013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAMMON, HAM AND BACON?



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It can be confusing when distinguishing between gammon, ham and bacon. We know that these meats come from a pig, but what exactly are the differences between them. Is it as simple as the location of the meat on the pig or is it the process the meat goes through that makes them different?

Gammon, ham and bacon are all cured meats (which means they are preserved using salt or brine), and all can be smoked. However there are some key differences between them.


Gammon
The word Gammon comes from the French word Gambe, which means hind leg. Gammon is the cut of meat from the pigs hind leg which is cured in the same way as bacon. The important factor here is that is the location of the pig from where it comes; gammon only comes from the hind leg of the pig.

The main difference between gammon and ham is that gammon is sold raw and needs to be cooked, whilst ham is sold cooked and ready for eating. Therefore it is true that a gammon is a ham that has not yet been cooked. If a gammon is prepared and cooked it can be called a ham, and is generally sold as a gammon ham.

Gammons are often 'wet cured' in a brine mixture, although they may be 'dry cured' in a salt based mixture. Traditionally gammon joints are cured over a period of 21-28 days. They are often been cured using additional ingredients such as muscovado sugar, juniper berries, beer and treacle. After the curing process the gammon may be smoked. This may be done with liquid smoke or smoked over wood chippings. Different woods will give subtle differences in flavour.

Often gammon is sold as a leg joint or as a gammon steak.

Ham
Ham is the term used to describe cured and cooked meat from the hind leg and rump. Ham refers to the cut of the meat, and so can also refer to meats other than pork such as turkey ham.

Hams can be 'wet cured' in a brine mixture or 'dry cured' in a salt based mixture. Hams can be smoked or left green after curing. This is followed by a period of drying and aging.

Ham is ready to be eaten and is usually sliced thinly and served cold. Interestly, if a gammon is cooked then it becomes a ham.

Bacon
Bacon refers to certain cuts of meat taken from the sides, back or belly of a pig. It is is cured and possibly smoked. Like ham, bacon refers to the cut of meat and so can also refer to other meats than pork.

Gammon and bacon are both cured pork. The main difference between them is the part of the pig from which they originate. Gammon is the hind leg (haunch) of a pig whilst bacon is the meat from other parts of the pig such as the loin, collar or belly.

There are several different types of bacon depending on the thickness of the slice and from the part of the pig from which it is cut. Streaky bacon is cut from the pork belly and is named after the fatty streaks that run through each rasher. Back bacon is taken from the loin of the pig, which is the part of the body on both sides of the spine between the lowest ribs and the hipbones. It has less fat than streaky bacon and more meat. Pacetta is uncooked, uncured cubes of bacon.

Bacon can be dry cured by either smoking, being packed with large amounts of salt or drying in cold air. Alternatively, bacon can be wet cured by immersing in a liquid brine.

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What is the difference between a stew and a casserole?
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What is the difference between gammon, ham and bacon?