Archive for the “Real Food” Category
Tom is hard at work on that book/DVD project he’s been teasing us with for the last year or so, which is good. But it’s taking a bit more time and effort for this phase than he’d planned, so you all are stuck with me for another week or so. It should be worth it in the end, so let’s all, as Lone Watie said in the classic “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (played by Chief Dan George) –
“endeavor to persevere.”
BTW, if you’re too young to get that reference, you need to watch that movie. If you don’t have that kind of patience, or if Josey has ended up on the non-PC list, or if you’d just like a reminder of one of the great scenes in movies:
Okay, enough about the first Americans put on a government-run welfare program.
Back here in the present day, I’ve pointed out before the adage that “grandchildren are your reward for not strangling your children when they’re teenagers.” The Wife and I got an invitation to go to breakfast with The Oldest Reward (1st grader) yesterday at her school’s Grandparents Day. It was fun, and well attended.
Of course, you knew this had to be there:
You want to indoctrinate kids when they’re young. Otherwise, they may start thinking for themselves and we all know how messy that can get. Here’s something I never saw posted on the wall in the school cafeteria when I was a kid:
I never saw it, because hypoglycemia is associated with diabetes. Type I (juvenile) diabetes is rare and kids with it don’t need a poster to be aware of it. The other is Type II diabetes, but when we were kids, that didn’t exist. The condition did, of course, but it hadn’t been renamed to Type II diabetes. It was called “Adult Onset diabetes,” because almost no one got it until they were well past school age, usually mid-life and later.
It’s no puzzle to any Fatheads on how you create an unprecedented epidemic of insulin resistance in children. It’s simple. You just feed them breakfasts like this:
Didn’t manage to capture the other offerings in the picture, but you could balance your plate out with oatmeal and/or a plastic wrapped muffin, also. Not a drop of the fat kids need for their brains in sight, and the only protein available was a few grams in the milk. Fat Free!, of course. Ugh. The menu was missing one of last year’s offerings:
Thanks a lot, Michelle Obama.
Leah picked out what she thought looked good, and ate about half of it.
The Wife and I passed on the meal and just enjoyed being with her and her multitude of buddies. I was still fuming over the whole raw milk thing (or as the grandkids call it — “creamy milk!”) and took a look at the label on the fat-free chocolate milk:
Interesting that the FDA, USDA, CDC, and the Illinois State Medical Society are conducting a jihad against raw milk, but don’t seem to have anything but praise for the folks who bring our kids milk concocted with alkali, cornstarch, salt, artificial flavors, and carrageennan. Note also that the label does warn the consumer that this product “CONTAINS: MILK.” You know, just in case anyone was worried about there being milk in their milk.
It was fun being with the Oldest Grandkid, and we got to meet her teacher and see some of the school before she blasted off to the playground to squeeze in some playtime with her buddies before the bell started the school day. But the wife and I were a bit hungry so we stopped on the way to work and picked up a much higher quality breakfast to start our own workdays:
(Heh, heh. Just making sure Tom keeps getting those royalty checks from Ronald McDonald!)
Have a great weekend. Like it or not, I’ll have a few more things to say next week.
The Older Brother
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Here’s another callback for you longtime Fatheads. It’s from the end of a two-parter I wrote on the State of Illinois’ attempt last year to regulate raw milk producers out of business, “The Older Brother’s notes from the sausage factory floor…” At the end, after over a hundred people showed up to politely but loudly protest the state’s heavy-handed actions, I noted:
“I’ve heard from a couple of folks who think the regulators got an education on raw milk… Maybe the bureaucrats would change things up substantially. Maybe even remove impediments to raw milk while setting a few common-sense protocols, as it fits in with the buy local/real foods programs the state and others talk up.”
Feeling I had a better understanding of bureaucratic sausage-making than those good, honest people, I ended with…
“I’m guessing they’ll lay low for a few months or more, and then pass pretty much all of those rules as is, maybe without the 100 gallon limit. Or maybe they’ll bump the limit to 500 gallons. But they didn’t learn anything, and they’re there to pass those rules.
It’s what they do.”
… Well. Sorry to be right again, but really, it was an easy call.
Apparently, in the last week or so, the FDA-funded lickspittles at the Illinois Department of Public Health went ahead and promulgated new rules concerning raw milk because… well, because there were no rules and how can you just let people mind their own business without someone writing rules to give them permission to do their own business and regulations detailing how that business is to be minded.
This go-round, they’ve posted for comment regulations that will require anyone selling raw milk to gather the name, address, and phone number of anyone they sell raw milk to and turn it over to the state on request. They will also be prohibited from milking a cow with any dirt on its udder or belly, and be required to only milk cows in a building with floors and walls that can be cleaned. In other words, you can’t milk a cow outdoors, and you’ll have to build a building for several tens of thousands of dollars to do it in.
These are, of course, only a start. Once they get some regulations on the books, they can keep expanding them and “re-interpreting” them until they’ve driven all raw milk producers out of the market. Mission accomplished!
I wouldn’t have known about this as my local paper — the one in the state capital and the middle of ag country — didn’t actually mention any of this. It did, however, helpfully print a letter to the editor from one of the FDA’s useful idiots – the (prepare to be impressed) president of The Illinois State Medical Society. Here’s a few of what the medical establishment’s public mouthpiece seems to think are compelling arguments on why educated, intelligent, health-conscious people shouldn’t be allowed to choose to consume milk in the way it’s been consumed for the last 7,500 years or so…
As the Illinois Department of Public Health advances rules governing the sale of raw milk, the Illinois State Medical Society remains opposed to the sale and distribution of “raw” or unpasteurized milk in any form. Federal law prohibits dairies from distributing raw milk across state lines in final package form and about half of U.S. states prohibit the sale of raw milk completely.
Correct answer: So what?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other medical and health organizations, raw milk that is not pasteurized may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and other bacteria, that can cause serious illness and, in extreme cases, death. And studies show that children, particularly, are most susceptible to illness due to consuming unpasteurized raw milk.
You mean, there might be germs in milk? Like just about any other food out there. Only as the statistics show, not so much. The nice thing about raw milk is that, unlike pasteurized milk, it also contains all kinds of good bacteria that, in addition to controlling the baddies mentioned, also brings both documented and anecdotal benefits. Probably in about another twenty years, the adherents to the type of medicine practiced by the Illinois State Medical Society will discover the wonders of the gut biome. (Don’t tell them now – you’ll ruin the surprise!)
Pasteurization, simply put, is heating milk to a high temperature and then rapidly cooling it to eliminate harmful bacteria, yet maintaining the milk’s freshness for an extended period of time. Even the Illinois Farm Bureau advocates that individuals drink pasteurized milk.
Wow. You mean, the industry group representing the commodity dairy producers who keep their livestock in confinement pens, inject them with hormones and antibiotics, then mix milk from thousands of cows from different producers, to be shipped hundreds of miles, think people should only drink pasteurized milk? The ones who also put artificial coloring and aspartame in their products?
Now, if you’re going to drink milk from one of these producers, you damned well better want it to be pasteurized. That has nothing to do with the environment of healthy dairy cows raised on pasture with sales going to people within driving distance, who can walk around those fields if they want to see what conditions their food is being produced in.
(Don’t worry about that aspartame thing though. The FDA of which the guardian of our health at the Illinois State Medical Society speaks is engaged in an effort, at the behest of these same producers, to allow aspartame to not be listed in the ingredients of your store-bought, “healthy” milk.)
And these commodity producers, having seen milk sales drop over 20% to the lowest levels in thirty years, are more than happy to advise the FDA, the USDA, the Medical Society, and any other economic illiterates, on how to best put small farmers — who are producing a healthy, ethical, vastly superior product at premium prices — out of business.
I’d say that if the good doctor’s medical expertise is in line with his depth of understanding exhibited in the areas of epidemiology and economics, it would explain why there are over 90,000 medical malpractice-related hospital deaths a year.
That’s an interesting number, because coincidentally, according to an excellent breakdown of the real numbers done by Chris Kesser here, that’s about the odds (1 in 94,000) of a person even getting ill from raw milk (not dead – just a reportable tummy ache). The odds of being hospitalized due to raw milk are around 1 in 6 million, or about three times less than dying in an airplane crash. As for dying, well that’s hard to calculate, since the last reportable deaths associated with raw milk were in the late 1990’s, and those were from homemade “bathtub” queso cheese, which was assuredly contaminated by the maker.
Now, back in 1985, both the worst case of food poisoning deaths (52) and the worst case of salmonella poisoning deaths (possibly up to 12) since the CDC began keeping records in 1970 resulted from consuming dairy products. However, both of those cases involved pasteurized milk. You know — the safe kind.
In fact, there has never been a death reported from just drinking raw milk. That’s according to the CDC. But it took a Freedom of Information Act request to get that out of them, cause it tends to mess with their mission, which is to produce press releases that say “Majority of dairy-related disease outbreaks linked to raw milk.”
Not that food can’t kill you. Since that last death associated with raw milk products, people have died from spinach, green onions, cantaloupe, peanuts, drinking water, apple juice, various types of meats, and again, pasteurized milk products, among others.
If the sundry State Medical Societies worked on “physician, heal thyself” and “first, do no harm” instead of acting as the PR wing for the FDA, CDC, USDA and other Big Ag-owned agencies, they could save countless lives. Up to 90,000 just for starts. That’s without even touching all the havoc and suffering they create helping out their other good buddies over at the pharmaceutical companies.
NOTE: If you live in Illinois, you’ve got until October 20th to let your elected representatives know that you’re not interested in less freedom, crappier food choices, and putting small farmers out of business. Remember, nothing gets a bureaucrat’s attention like a lawmaker who’s getting an earful from irritated (but polite, please) constituents two months before an election.
the Older Brother
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Hey, Fatheads! Long time since I’ve got to sit in the Big Chair. I asked Tom if I could fill in for awhile because I seem to be buying a book a week for my nook after his reviews and citations, and I wanted to give my PayPal account a rest.
If you’re a regular here, you may remember one of my last guest posts was “The Yankee Farm Report,” where I went on about chickens, cows, and compost. For us it’s all about real food that you not only know where it comes from, but that you’ve also participated in the full cycle.
[ I know Tom and Chareva have their own land and chickens (and now they've had goats), but I figured I still had him on the whole farm life scene.
Then they ate a raccoon. On purpose.
Game. Set. Match. Second place again! Cripes. The Wife assures me we won't be trying that. ]
Anyway, back then I had about 50 chickens that were too big and getting bigger because we’d bought them in September and by the time they were big enough to process (butcher) we were right in the middle of the coldest winter we’d had in decades. We (meaning The Oldest Son, Linda, and I) finally got started processing them in February, and they averaged about 10 lbs. Plus it was still damned cold out,so keeping the water you dip the (already killed) chicken in at the right temperature with a camp stove in a garage was a borderline proposition. But the biggest pain — and I know any of you who’ve ever lived on a farm will back me up on this — was plucking the now soaking wet carcass. After that is when you get the innards out and start making it look like what you see when you go to the store for a whole chicken.
We got four done the first time we tried but it took about that many hours. We did another eight and improved our time a bit, but it still took us about six hours.
We’re doing the math in our heads – twelve birds down, thirty-two to go. At that rate, we should be able to finish by, oh, about Christmas, 2016! That pretty much did it for me. I told The Oldest Son — “we’re building a chicken plucker!”
We still had to process another dozen by hand while I assembled the Whizbang Chicken Plucker from terrific plans in a book by Herrick Kimball that Linda happened to have, but once completed, we really tuned up our technique with the remaining birds. We still weren’t super fast, but it went so much smoother that Linda agreed to trying another batch.
I was going to get another fifty Freedom Rangers — a breed that grows fast, but does well on pasture and without the health issues that make Tyson/Big Chicken’s Cornish Cross so pathetic. Then my buddy Greg — the one with the truck and tractor from my Yankee Farm Report — asked me to get an extra twenty-five for him, so this would be seventy-five. Except when I called to place the order, the nice man on the phone pointed out that with the volume price break, it would cost me two dollars more to buy seventy-five than to get an even hundred. So I figured Linda wouldn’t mind an extra twenty-five birds. I mean, they were FREE, right? Plus, they’re so cute and tiny when you get them.
Of course, right after I ordered, my buddy’s friendly neighbors passed an ordinance prohibiting backyard chickens in their 1,500 citizen metropolis (proving that little burgs can shove their heads just as far up their a**es as big cities). So I had to explain to Linda that there would be a few more chickens on the farm than we’d talked about. But only double.
At any rate, this time things actually went wonderfully. At about a month, the chicks were moved into some old chicken tractors (think portable coop — Tom’s had pictures of his in previous posts) that had been sitting at the farm unused for years (after a bit of patching up). Linda used an ATV to move them once a day. Here’s what chickens look like when they get to eat bugs, scratch in the dirt, get moved to a new patch of fresh pasture every day, and generally get to express their chicken-ness:
These are a black variant of the same Freedom Ranger bird…
Of course, after about three months, it was time to start processing. We’d made some improvements with our first “learning curve” batch, but with this group we really worked out the kinks.
We spent three Saturdays in a row processing, and got better each time as we made adjustments to our layout and process. Once we had the chicken plucker, the bottleneck became dispatching the chickens.
I’d made a home-made kill cone, but we decided to use a couple of traffic cones with the ends cut off. They’re sturdier, easier to mount to the platform we were using, and I just didn’t have time to do any fabricating. Greg helped the first week, a friend that works with The Oldest Son helped the next. They were both there the last week, so we added another cone.
We did twenty the first Saturday, another twenty-five the next, and all fifty remaining on the third Saturday (I know — that’s not 100. We’d had some attrition early).
We got everything (kill cones, scalder, plucker, processing table, coolers with ice) lined up only a few steps away. Here’s how it lays out:
Linda would bring nine chickens at a time from the chicken tractor out in the field. We’d use the kill cones to quickly dispatch them three at a time (we started with four cones, but adjusted back to three):
After the kill, the birds are dunked in the scalder, which for now is a turkey fryer setup (which The Wife has banned me from using at home due to an unfortunate incident years ago!). The temp has to be around 145-150.
(I say “for now” because the scalder and keeping it in the magic temperature range of 145-150 degrees is now the new bottleneck, and the same author has published plans for a Whizbang Chicken Scalder.)The soaking/dipping in hot water for about a minute is what loosens the feathers so they can be plucked. Then they go into the amazing Whizbang Chicken Plucker…
About thirty seconds later, they come out cleaner than if you’d spent five minutes hand-plucking.
Plus you can put up to three in at a time, so you’re replacing fifteen minutes of wet, smelly labor with a flick of the switch. Gotta love technology.
Here’s how it looks in action (that’s Greg “narrating” and taking the video with his phone, and Linda running the plucker. She seemed amused by my answer to Greg’s query as to my total investment in the plucker):
Once that’s done, they go to the processing table, where in about two minutes The Oldest Son can turn a plucked chicken into a clean bird ready to go into the ice bath cooler to chill down prior to bagging.
That’s not Joel Salatin fast yet (I’ve seen a YouTube of Salatin doing a chicken in about 25 seconds, and he was talking the whole time), but with our other helpers at the table working about half to three-quarters of The Oldest Son’s speed, they get them done as fast as Linda and I can work the kill/scald/pluck side of the operation.
All told, we got to the farm to do the the final fifty chickens at about 9:30 am, and had all fifty bagged and in coolers, we’d cleaned and put everything away, and were pulling out of the drive by 3:00.
Five and a half hours of labor on a warm, cloudy summer day with some good friends and we had filled the freezers for us and some family and friends with weeks’ worth of real food. We felt, as one of Tom’s previous posts mused, the Joy of Being Dog-Tied Satisfied, while looking forward to many good meals…
We just received our newest batch of 100 chicks (Linda’s idea!)the first week of August, and they moved into the pasture two weeks ago. That will be the last batch for this year, but by the end of October we’ll have freezers jam-packed with real food for winter; and I think we’ll get serious about seeing if we can make this, if not a full business, at least a paying hobby in 2015.
The Older Brother
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Hard to believe, but it’s that time of the year already: the girls’ summer vacation is half over, the Fourth of July has come and gone, and the All-Star Game is next week. Time flies.
This also the time of year when Chareva’s gardens start becoming productive, which means people we’ve known for years won’t look us in the eye for fear we’ll offer them zucchini.
Chareva’s done her best to dispose of the wildly prolific plants. We’ve had baked zucchini, sautéed zucchini, zucchini fritters, zucchini on salads – heck, she even sneaked zucchini into her meatloaf recipe a couple of times. (It did not go undetected.) It’s gotten to the point where if she asks what we want for dinner, the girls and I say in unison, “Not zucchini.”
The exception was her zucchini muffins, which she made once as an experiment and again at the girls’ request. Here’s her recipe – in case one of us bumps into you in public and manages to squeeze a zucchini into your hand before you can refuse.
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (ground)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp liquid Stevia
1 Tbsp molasses
3 eggs (beaten)
1 medium zucchini (grated), or about 2 cups squeezed. Discard juice.**
Mix wet ingredients in one bowl. Mix dry in another. Combine all ingredients in one bowl. Spoon into greased muffin tins. (Tip: Use a lint free coffee filter to generously grease the inside of the muffin tins with lard or bacon grease.)
Bake muffins in a 325 degree oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins at around 10 carbs each*. (They’re awesome with some melted Kerrygold butter, by the way — Tom.)
*The combined flours add up to about 100 net carbs. To make the muffins lower in carbs, eliminate the rice flour and increase the coconut flour to one cup. Additionally the tapioca flour can be substituted with more almond flour. We were pleasantly surprised, however, at the lighter and slightly crispy texture that the tapioca and rice flours added. The molasses adds a nice brown color to the muffins, along with a bit of sweetness.
** In an effort help us dispose of the zucchini, Sara tried making zucchini-juice popsicles. The verdict: they’re horrible. Don’t try this at home.
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Our land served more as a disc-golf course than a farm while Jimmy and Christine Moore were visiting. Jimmy and I ended up playing 27 rounds, which means we walked more than 27 miles during the week he was here. Not bad, considering it was very hot and humid until Thursday, his last full day here.
There were some reminders during the week that in addition to disc-golf baskets, there are animals occupying the property. Sara received a visit from a local goat expert, who coached her on catching and harnessing her goats so they can be trained … although we’re not expecting them to do tricks or anything when the 4-H fair rolls around.
Sara’s other 4-H project is to raise 25 chickens and auction off five of them. Now she’s down to 21 chickens. For the third time since we moved here, a predator discovered one of our coops and decided to treat it as a takeout restaurant. This time it was the coop behind the house.
Chareva walked out to her garden one morning a few days ago and noticed some chicken feathers stuck to the fence next to the coop. When she counted the chickens, there were only 22 left. No other clues. Since she didn’t find any McNuggets or other recognizable pieces of chicken, I thought perhaps the killer this time was a fox. Raccoons tend to leave body parts as evidence, from what I’ve read.
I set the same trap that caught a raccoon a couple of years ago, but when I checked it the next morning, the can of cat food I used for bait was gone even though the trap door was still open. So I baited it again and pointed my trail camera at it, hoping to at least get a mug shot of the perpetrator.
The next day, Chareva found that some critter had ripped open the tarp that covers the hoop-house and killed another chicken – most of the carcass was still inside the coop. So I checked my trail camera and saw that a raccoon had knocked the trap over on its side, then (or so it appeared in the fuzzy night shots) simply reached through the wire mesh and pulled out chunks of the cat food. Pleased with the appetizer, it apparently then ripped open the tarp and killed a chicken for the main course.
I don’t believe this, I grumbled to myself. I’m being out-smarted by a raccoon. (In the picture below, you can see how Chareva reinforced the coop where it was torn.)
Figuring the moving parts on the trap might be getting rusty, I took the thing into my workshop and fussed with it until a light tap with a dowel would trip the spring. Then I wrapped some wire around the mesh at the bait end so the raccoon wouldn’t be able to reach through and grab the cat food. After baiting the trap yet again, I secured it to the ground with a garden stake. Now if Rocky Raccoon wanted the cat food, he’d have to go inside the trap to get it – although I figured he might just be smart enough to know better.
Nope. As Jimmy and Christine were packing to leave on Friday, Chareva came in from the garden to inform me a raccoon was inside the trap. To get an idea of how powerful these critters are for their size, take a look at the picture below. See that bit of tin on the floor of the cage near the middle? That was a full can of cat food. And the trap door that’s slammed shut was straight, not bent like it is now. The raccoon gave it that shape trying to bang its way out.
The last time I sent a chicken-killer to the Great Chicken Coop In The Sky, I tossed the carcass in an empty field. That drew a few comments from readers about how raccoons make a good stew and I’d just wasted some wild game. Point taken. And of course, there’s the rebate factor: by eating the critter that ate Sara’s chickens, we get some of our own chickens back.
So after Jimmy and Christine left, I took a .22 out back and dispatched the raccoon with a clean shot to the head. Unlike his predecessor, he didn’t flail around inside the cage and force me to take body shots at a moving target. He hissed and growled at me, then raised his snout to meet the barrel, probably intent on biting it.
With that unpleasant task out of the way, Chareva and I set about skinning and gutting the raccoon after watching some instructional videos on YouTube.
After that, we let it sit overnight in a pot of water, vinegar and salt, as suggested in still more instructional videos.
In the evening, we took the girls to a Fourth of July concert/fireworks celebration at an outdoor amphitheater in a local park. The band was excellent, the fireworks were awesome as always, and the weather was the best I remember for a July evening in Tennessee – 62 degrees by the time we left the park. It was all so pleasant and civilized … which is probably why Chareva turned to me during the drive home and said, “I can’t believe we killed and gutted a raccoon today.”
“Yeah, I guess we’re true hillbillies now. I’m looking forward to your possum pie someday.”
We’ll settle for raccoon stew for now. On Saturday, Chareva parboiled the raccoon parts to make it easier to separate the meat. (That’s Coco standing watch and offering to take care of any unwanted parts.)
The meat went into a big pot with some onions, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and spices. I named it Chicken-Killer Stew. The meat was a little on the chewy side, but other than that, I could hardly tell it from beef stew.
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In my last post, there was a quote from a media article in which the First Lady takes credit for rising academic scores — despite no data that I could find. It’s those low-fat USDA lunches with the hearthealthywholegrains and vegetables, ya see. Never mind that kids are throwing the vegetables in the trash.
My girls eat their vegetables, but that’s because we slather them (the vegetables, not the girls) in butter and other yummy fats. Pretty much everything they eat includes yummy fats. Yummy fats are good for the brain.
So pardon another post full of shameless bragging, but we just received their report cards, which include their scores on the national standardized tests. They both got straight A’s in school and scored in the high 90s in all subjects on the standardized tests — except for science, where they both scored 100. (Sara was a little disappointed about her 97 in math. She scored 100 last time.)
Yes, their capacity to learn is largely genetic. But I believe their high-fat, whole-foods diet is also allowing their brains and intellectual abilities to grow to their inborn potential. I also believe the good diet helps them to concentrate and stay focused.
Alana did quite well in math but would like to increase her speed on timed tests, so I built her a little flash-card program I figured I may as well share with any Fat Head readers who have kids in elementary school. When you fire it up, there’s a setup screen:
The little tyke can choose to work with one number — all sixes, for example — and then see the cards in order, or in random order. Or she can choose to see all possible cards within a range — everything from 1 x 1 to 10 x 10 in random order, for example. Younger kids can choose a lower range of numbers. It works pretty much the same way for practicing division.
Clicking the button on the right displays the answer. Clicking it again displays the next card. Pressing the ENTER key is the same as clicking the button, so the wee one can just keep pressing ENTER to work through all the cards.
Anyway, if you’d like to try the program for your future math whiz, right-click this link and choose Save As … (or whatever your browser calls it). Unzip the folder and run the InstallFlashCards.msi file on your PC. (Sorry, no Mac or tablet version.)
If you download it and like it, feel free to show your appreciation by clicking the donate button below. That will put $5 in the Fat Head tip jar.
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