Wild Arkansas

June 12, 2012

Wild Arkansas — we’re done here.

Filed under: Uncategorized — WildArkansas @ 8:32 pm

The Wild Arkansas blog is finished. Though I regret having to leave it behind, I no longer have the time to spend on it.

I’m leaving the blog up for informational purposes only, but will no longer answer requests for walks or classes.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in one way or another.

If you would like to see what I’m doing these days, visit http://broke-artist.com/


Carla R. Herrera


January 2, 2012

2011 in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — WildArkansas @ 7:06 pm

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

November 19, 2011

Tis the Time for Nuts

Filed under: baking, foraging, nuts — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 2:45 am

The problematic nature of the black walnut or Juglans nigra comes not from its bountiful supply, but from its inability to let go of that nut easily.

The hard-shelled nut is a difficult one to crack, which is probably why the nuts are so plentiful for the intrepid forager willing to tackle the task of processing.

A couple of years ago I collected only a couple of pounds of walnut from a tree I found in Lowell. After reading about the difficulty of processing, I set about hulling the nuts from the shell, and as time-consuming as that was, it did not compare to the chore of getting the actual nut from the shell.

And to boot, there isn’t much meat to get. It’s very small in comparison to the English walnut, but…and this is a very big BUT. The meat is worth the effort.

This is one of the sweetest nutmeats you will taste. If you know your nuts, then you know the black walnut is superior in taste to the walnuts you’ll buy in the store. The bitterness you find in the store packaged variety is absent.

Not a lot of people try processing the black walnut, but this year we’re doing it again and attempting to get at least a full pound of nut meat. That’s a lot of meat.

The difficulty in obtaining the meat is not from breaking the shell, (though I have heard that some people have went so far as to lay nuts out on the driveway and run over them to break through the barrier.) but from digging the meat from the many chambers inside the shell.

Be sure to wear gloves during the process or your hands will stain. The stain lasts a good while. Though I wore gloves, some stain still managed to come through and lasted about two weeks.


The process of getting from harvesting to nut meat is not a short one. The steps in order:

1. Cut hulls from the shell. Use a knife to slice all the way around the shell as deeply as possible. Twist to remove one side, then cut the other side away.

2. Run cold water over hulled nuts and scrape or brush the remaining hull from the shell. Let the shells dry before the next step.

3.  crack the nuts; either with hammer or car tire doesn’t matter as long as you can get to the meat.


4.  Use a small utensil; a knife, or nutpick… something that will fit into the small chambers inside the walnut. If you have more than five pounds of hulled nuts you will be digging for a very long time.

The whole process for two pounds of hulled nuts took approximately three hours.

Though the black walnut meat really is one of the best I’ve tasted, the process is time consuming and frustrating. If you have family members or friends who will help, it will make the time go much faster, you’ll get done quicker and probably have more fun.

The nut meat can be eaten raw, used in baking or any way that you would use other nuts.


November 5, 2011

Leafy green blues

Filed under: food, health, organic greens, wellness — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 12:54 am

 Twenty-five years ago I read a health article from a popular woman’s magazine that told me if I ate leafy greens at least twice a week I would avoid the perils of premenstrual crabbiness.

I was a skeptic, but I tried it. The “experiment” began two weeks before menses. I ate bok choy, spinach, turnip greens and lots of lettuce. That time of the month came and went with no significance and that was the evidence.

My husband told me that since we had been married, he had not gotten through a month without having to deal with the mood changes. For him this was a remakable improvment, simply because there were no petty arguments escalating to talk of divorce.

Upon recall, I remembered feeling as if he was being a jerk simply because he watched a ball game.

But that was twenty-five years ago and times and the people have changed.

Today we have more incidence of food-related illnesses and food-related behaviors than we did back then. More people eat fast food and more children suffer from ADHD.

Children consume pizza and chicken McNuggets as regular diet staples and unfortunately suffer from that consumption. Diabetes, obesity and mood disorders are a result.

From my own experience, I know what I consume affects my moods and my health. After my juicing experiment I began eating a lot more leafy greens again. My diet consists of mostly vegetables and fruits, though I do eat some fish.

The before and after are remarkable, only in that they are graphic representations of the way I felt about the world around me.

Before: my diet consisted of whatever was in the house. When I shopped for food, I shopped for convenience. What would take less time to prepare? What can I pop in the microwave? Taste, comfort and convenience were the most important factors. I ate fruits or vegetables about once a week or when I foraged them.

Comfort included not dealing with other people. When I had to deal with other people I tried to make the experience as brief as possible.

Now: I deal with people daily because I also work as a customer service representative. Fortunately, today it’s not nearly as traumatic an experience as it was a month ago.

That sounds and feels like an extreme statement of fact, but in fact, it is true.

In the age of information it’s difficult to believe that people don’t know eating pizza or other fast food every night is not bad for them. Maybe it’s denial.

Listen to your mother. Leafy greens are good for you. Eat your vegetables. Eat fruit for dessert. I guarantee…Yes, I guarantee… You will be a happier, healthier person for it.




October 31, 2011

Wild Arkansas 2: Wintercress

Filed under: barbarea, wintercress — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 2:17 am

Juicing II

Filed under: food, health — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 1:26 am

Day 3

Afternoon: I was in downtown Siloam Springs and ended up getting a blueberry, strawberry smoothie from the Cafe on Broadway. Fresh ingredients by the way, and quite yummy.

Evening: a cup of spinach, three carrots and one pear. The color wasn’t good, but the taste surprised me. Sweet and light tasting.


Day 4

Morning: Pineapple, banana (for puree), one carrot. Very nice.

Afternoon: Carrot, pineapple, apple

Evening: 2 carrots, 2 apples, finished the pineapple. About 1/2 cup.

Was still needing something around 10 pm, so I made a snack juice of orange, cucumber and apple. Approximately 8 ounces.

Throughout this juicing, I have learned that eating healthy doesn’t cost more. In fact in dollars, it is beginning to cost less.

The “healthy food costs more,” myth is just that–a myth.  A mental transformation comes with the physical change of consumption habits. The healthier the food and the more thought put into the act of preparation, the less we eat. I’m not sure why it works that way, but it has for me. I think it does for most people.

The less thought we put into what we’re consuming, the more we consume.

At the end of day 4 of juicing, I may have spent a total of $15.00 on food. That includes the blueberry smoothie from the Cafe on Broadway.

I can’t say I’m not looking forward to eating whole food again. Something cooked. But, I know that my eating habits have changed.


Day 5

Morning: Apple, carrot, orange.

Today I began eating whole foods again.

Afternoon/lunch: Spinach, cucumber, tomato and garlic, mixed together with about 1 tsp of low-fat honey dijon dressing.

In 4 days of juicing I lost about 10 lbs. Back down to size 9/10. Was previously at 10/11.


A few comments:

The purpose for juicing, to me, was to illustrate how healthy I could eat. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips, grabbing a bag of grapes. Or, cherry tomatoes. Make a healthy juice.

We all have options, we choose not to exercise those options at times.

Our current food system, advertising and the culture we live tends to encourage us to eat unhealthy. For all the Joe Cross’s we have, we also have McD’s, KFC and Long John Silver’s luring us through the doors.

The only way to change the food system is to vote with your dollars. Vote healthy, vote for healthy food. Say goodbye to corporate food system and hello to the local green grocer or farmer. And.. abovel all, thank people like Joe Cross for being so inspirational.

Thanks Joe.

Carla R. Herrera

Siloam Springs, AR.

October 28, 2011


Filed under: health — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 6:27 pm

Inspired by Joe Cross, from the film,Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, I thought I would try a ten-day juice diet. So it began Wednesday (10/26). I’m going to try a few foraged goods along with the diet, but have no idea how much I’m going to gather. It takes quite a bit of product to make a full glass of juice.

I’m also drinking water and green tea.


Day 1 – Morning: Mango, carrot, strawberries.

Afternoon: Carrot, apple and strawberries.

Evening: Tomato, carrot, cabbage, garlic.

Notes: The first two juices of the day were great. The last, I could barely drink. I think the cabbage ruined it, but the whole clove of garlic I added created a very spicy, cabbage tasting drink. Not good. I ended up only taking a few sips and poured the rest down the drain.

I think I need to get a book with different types of juice recipes.

Didn’t feel hungry at all until 3-4 pm. Then I felt a desire for real food. I worry I won’t have the proper nutrients, but I think with a little study I can find out what I need.


Day 2 – Morning: Started out with banana, apple, carrot and one plum. Very light tasting and sweet. Though I don’t feel “full”, I feel satisfied. I’m not hungry.

Afternoon: cucumber, pear, apple, plum.

After lunch, I had to run some errands and found myself surrounded by food. Real food. Or the stuff we usually think of as real food. In the midst of one of the stores we visited, I found myself wanting to go to the deli. The smell alone was overwhelming. Had to leave.

Evening: Pear, two apples, carrots, grapes.

I felt fine for awhile, but right around 10 pm I began getting hungry. I wanted to bite into something. Popcorn, a whole cucumber, a banana with peanut butter.

Fortunately, I kept my mind off it by writing this blog post about food that I can’t have.

I think the craving is part addiction. Most of us are addicted to food in an unhealthy way. Instead of eating for the nutrition we need, we tend to eat for other reasons.

I believe the juicing is a good break away from that addiction. It kind of illustrates in a (mentally) heavy-handed way how unhealthy our addictions are.

I don’t know if I can do a full ten days, but I’m definitely trying. It’s a great test of will, but I miss food. Maybe that will change.


Day 3: Morning: Pineapple, carrot, pear. I used more than a cup of pineapple and when finished ended up with a little more than ten ounces.

Sweet, light with a bit of tartness. Hoping today goes better than yesterday. Last night around midnight I broke down and ate a cucumber.

Cost of juicing

I’ve heard many people say that juicing is really expensive, but when I compare the cost to regular groceries I don’t think preparing juices costs more.

I went to the local Aldi market to look at produce and found the prices to be very agreeable.

I bought enough produce to last through two days of juicing and came out of the store paying less than $10. For six meals, I’d have to say that’s economical.

For anyone local, check out the Aldi market on Hwy 412. It’s directly across the street from Walmart and the produce is less expensive.

You won’t have the vast choices the larger store provides, but Aldi provides in-season produce and there is enough of a selection to satisfy most people.

A few comparisons:

Walmart                                                    Aldi

lrg bag of carrots                      1.48                                                          .99

Anjou pears                               2.49 lb.                                                  4 for .99

(3-4 fruit per pound)

red del. apples                          2.79 lb.                                                  1.49 for 3 lbs.

Pineapple (whole)                   2.99                                                               .99

Green grapes                             1.58                                       Same, but in 1 lb. pkgs.

(seedless) Walmart only sells grapes in two pound packages.

Plums are .25 each at Aldi. Not sure what the price is at Walmart.

The better alternative would be a green grocer, but in Siloam Springs we don’t have that option.

Cost total: about $5.00 a day for one person, if you watch prices. Most of this is not organic produce, so the cost would be higher to go that route, though probably not that much higher.

October 18, 2011

The World According to Monsanto

Filed under: Monsanto, video — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 5:58 am

FDA says you don’t need to know what you eat

Filed under: Uncategorized — WildArkansas @ 2:47 am

This is a re-post of an old quote from Michael Pollan, but it really is relevant today. Every day we ignore what’s going on with our food system is another day Monsanto and their counterparts gain more control over it.

Vote with your shopping habits.

” Though Americans have already begun to eat genetically engineered potatoes, corn and soybeans, industry research confirms what my own informal surveys suggest: hardly any of us knows it. The reason is not hard to find. The biotech industry, with the concurrence of the Food and Drug Administration, has decided we don’t need to know it…”

From Michael Pollan’s article, Playing God in the Garden, NY Times Magazine

Food Inc. The film

Filed under: food, Monsanto — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 2:01 am

Please watch


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