raw beets

Homemade Ink Tutorial!

Inktober is only a few days away, so I thought I’d post some recipes for making your own ink at home.  I mostly make tea/coffee inks, but I’m listing other recipes as well.

A couple of things to note!  Gum Arabic is used to help pigments soak/stain the surface you’re painting.  It comes in liquid or powdered form.  You can find it in art supplies stores, but the cheapest method is to get bulk bottles sold to photographers (it’s usually a better quality too, so bonus!).  If the gum arabic is especially dark and cloudy, that means it has gone bad.  It is toxic, so try not to suck on any brush used with it. 

When making ink with soot or tea, be sure to strain your boiled down ink BEFORE adding gum arabic.  I use a coffee press with a coffee filter put on it to add more straining.  I do it multiple times.  You’ll have to throw away the liquid on the bottom, so plan on loosing roughly ½ cup of large (5 cup) batches.

Black Permanent Ink

½ tsp lamp black (which you can buy or can make by holding a plate over a candle and collecting the soot or from collecting other char)

1 egg yolk

1 tsp gum arabic

½ cup honey

 Mix together the egg yolk, gum arabic, and honey. Stir in the lamp black. This will produce a thick paste which you can store in a sealed container. To use the ink, mix this paste with a small amount of water to achieve the desired consistency.    


Roman Ink

Make a dark gray ink close to what the Romans may have used in their time.

For this you will need

*Gum Arabic (honey can be used as a substitute, but I haven’t tested that method)

*charcoal sticks or soot from the fireplace

put the charcoal sticks in a plastic baggie and crush them completely with a small mallet or rolling pin

Place 5 teaspoons of the soot or crushed charcoal into a small metal or glass bowl

add 2 teaspoons of gum arabic (or Honey) and 4 teaspoons of vinegar stir until all it combined.

Blue Ink

if you want to make a dark blue ink

mix 2 tablespoons of LAUNDRY bluing powder (Prussian Blue pigment) to 5 tablespoons of water.

Red Ink

Slice a raw beet in ¼ inch slices

place into a sauce pan with a ½ cup water and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the slices are tender.

Strain the beets from the water.

add a ½ teaspoon of vinegar & ½ teaspoon of salt.

Purple Ink

In a small sauce pan bring to a boil a ¼ cup grape juice. 

Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar & 1 tablespoon of salt.

Brown Ink

4 teaspoons loose tea or 4-5 teabags

1 teaspoon gum arabic

½ cup boiling water

 Pour the boiling water over the tea. Allow the tea to steep for about 15 minutes.  Squeeze as much tea (tannin) as possible from the tea or teabags. Strain the ink.  Stir in the gum arabic.

Try to experiment with different combinations and types of tea.  White teas yield very little pigment, green teas are a little darker, and black teas are a good medium tone.  Chai teas can get rather dark, but they take a lot of filtering.  You can also boil down coffee to make a nice, dark brown ink.

I like to put my inks in water pens, but if you do so you have to be careful of the particles that settle at the bottom of the inks.  That stuff easily clogs a pen.  Letting a pen sit for too long often will also cause the inks to coagulate, resulting in a ruined water pen, so if you aren’t using them, try removing the ink from the water pens and running hot water through them.  Store pens with ink in them brush tip up.

pictured- gunked up ink!

Have fun experimenting with teas, coffees, even berries (black berries yield dark purple ink!).  Yay Inktober!

(coffee and tea ink used on this critter of mine from Inktober last year)


I went on an ink-making spree the last few days, so I updated the sample ink washes.

*pumpkin tea, coffee and laundry blue inks with Pentel Stylo outline


                                            Edible Flower Crown.

  • Lapsang-cured roe deer rolled in leek ash
  • Roses of Prosciutto di Parma
  • Croustade, whipped creme fraiche seasoned with horseradish, topped with smoked salmon roe.
  • Crispy salted arctic char skin.
  • Roasted butternut and garlic pureé
  • Cured quail yolks spilling from faux starling shells.
  •  Slowcooked Moose tongue, panko fried.
  •  Raw Chiogga beet.
  • Yellow beet, cooked whole and then tossed with warm butter and honey..
  •  Blanched brussel sprout leaves.
  • Onion infused with a sweet and sour redbeet and cherry vinegar
  •  Herb creme.
  • Fresh herbs
  • Edible flowers.

The Edible Flowercrown. Landed in this idea since I wanted to showcase a lot of the local food we have in Sweden, while giving nods to Hannibal imagery, and a sort of one plate smorgasbord seemed appropriate. 

Quite a bit of game and fish, with the smoke-cured roe deer hiding oriental features in the lapsang tea, and the burnt ashes of the leeks providing the raven-black outer layer to the stag. The filet of roe deer is turned in salt, sugar and lapsang tea and set on a tray for 3 days turning them over after half the time, and then rolling them tight in cling film before freezing. Thawed gently in a fridge and turned in the leek ash. The freezing both helps eliminateany food safety concerns of uncooked cured food as well as setting the cylindrical shape of the filet as its frozen in the roll of the cling film.

Roe of salmon and arctic char skin for the fisherman. Creme fraiche whipped and seasoned with freshly grated horseradish and salt is topped in the croustade with the wonderful pearl-like salmon roe.

pumpkin for Jack, because I get to make a bad food pun when cooking for Hannibal damnit ;)  butternut peeled, cut and roasted in the oven along with garlic cloves, pureed with a bit of olive oil and then heated with a bit of butter, salt and pepper.

Three kinds of beets, because of the season. Winter is heavy on root vegetables in a country where iceand snow is the order of the day. The red beets providing the dark red notes for the sweet pickled onion, using distilled vinegar, a classic food staple in Swedish cooking. Chiogga beets raw for the crunch and the fantastic visual, and yellow beet cooked whole, peeled and tossed with a bit of honey and butter before serving.

Moose tongue, first set in a salt brine for 3 days and then cooked slowly over 4 hours with bay leaves, black pepper, allspice and root vegetables, skinned and set to cool, finally  turned in flour, egg yolk and finally panko before being fried in a skillet.

The quail yolks are separated from the whites and buried in salt for 24 hours, producing a yolk with a salty intense yolk flavour and the consistency of soft toffee. The shells are cleaned gently inside and submerged for 24 hours minimum in a liquid made of shredded red cabbage which has been boiled for 20 minutes with salt, sugar and white vinegar before being strained and chilled. This turns the shells blue, to simulate a starling egg. The shell being only inedible thing on the plate is fitting since Lecter doesn’t eat Starling.

Roses of Parma ham, a homage to those lovely roses Hannibal served.

A creme made from infusing a coldpressed olive oil with green herbs and then beaten into a emulsion with egg yolks. Seasoned with salt and pepper.

Green herbs and blanched leaves of brussel sprouts along with edible flowers to complete the crown

Freezing, machine-less dish washing, and other tips

On freezing:

  • separating your meals into individual portions and freezing them is an excellent time-saver. You can defrost it in the morning or the night before.
  • things that freeze super well: rice, beans, pasta (add a little extra sauce before freezing, ‘cause it will dry up!), sandwiches, soups, sauces, cake
  • things that do NOT freeze well: anything with potatoes (mashed potatoes become vaguely potato-y water), beets, raw tomato, raw cucumber, leaves in general
  • as a general rule: if it was frozen before (chicken nuggets, burger patties), it won’t freeze too well after.
  • when defrosting anything in the microwave, take it out every one or two minutes to stir.
  • defrosting liquids (soup/sauce) in a pan is ALWAYS easier

Machine-less dishwashing:

  • AS SOON AS you’re done making/heating up sauce, soups, or anything that sticks to the pan, stick it under running water and let the water pressure wash off most of the residue for you.
  • Greasy baking dishes/trays (DO NOT DO THIS WITH GLASS THO): add a lot of dish soap and a layer of water (about an inch below the rim). Put it on the stove and turn it to high heat until it boils; leave for about two minutes. Then immediately dump the water in the sink and scrub the dish as you normally would.
  • Dirty ashtrays: don’t bother with the sponge. Scrub off the excess grossness with a napkin, then grab your soapy sponge and squeeze it over the ashtray. Let it sit like that until you’re done washing everything else, then rinse off.

Other tips:

  • Try cleaning up as you cook. There’ll be a lot less mess to deal with later.
  • A tiny trashcan on the sink is a life saver. Trust me on this one.
  • When grating any kind of cheese that isn’t as hard as parmesan or pecorino, use the bigger holes, or you’ll have an absolute nightmare cleaning up the little ones.
  • ALWAYS put something over your plate when microwaving things with sauce (strogonoff, pasta, beans). There’s lids made especially for that, or just a plate will do, but careful when taking it off - there’ll be hot water drips!

Good Morning happy bloggers!
This morning started with a simple, yet nutritious orange papaya smoothie.

Using the Vitamix
1.5 frozen bananas
½ of a Hawaiian papaya
1 orange (squeezed)
½ of a soft golden pear
½ of a raw golden beet
½ cup of carrots

Add organic vanilla almond milk
Add ice

Blend until smooth

Top off with lots of dragon fruit.


In 1926, a Chicago pediatrician by the name of Clara Davis undertook one of the most amazing experiments in the annals of nutritional research when she persuaded several teenage mothers and widows to place their infants in her care for six years. Fifteen babies, ranging in age from six to eleven months and who’d never been exposed to ‘the ordinary foods of adult life,’ were put on an experimental diet in which they could eat whatever they wanted so long as whatever they wanted appeared on a list of thirty-four foodstuffs that included water, potatoes, cornmeal, barley, beef, lamb, bone jelly, carrots, turnips, haddock, peaches, apples, fish, orange juice, bananas, brains, milk, and cabbage. The foods were all 'natural food materials.’ There was no sugar, no cream, butter, or cheese, and no potato chips, but there was salt for sprinkling. Each item was presented over the course of a single day.

The experiment measured 'self-selection.’ Children were presented with the food but in no way encouraged to eat this or that. If they wanted to eat with their fingers, no problem. What they ate and how much was up to them. The prevailing scientific view at the time was that children were guilty of the gravest nutritional idiocy. Frantic mothers pleaded with doctors about children who wouldn’t eat their vegetables. The leading doctors of the day advised that these children be starved until they did. So Dr. Davis set out to discover what babies transitioning from breast milk to food would eat if it was all left up to them. The answer: everything. At first, anyway. During the initial two weeks, children sampled a little of all thirty-four foods. (This is exactly what goats would do, according to Fred Provenza.) But over time, they each developed favorites, although these would change suddenly and unpredictably.

There were generalities—the children came to prefer protein from milk, meat, liver, and kidney, for example, over vegetable protein. And some meals were strikingly unconventional. One child had a pint of orange juice and liver for breakfast. Another had eggs, bananas, and milk for dinner. Taken as a whole, however, the children chose remarkably balanced diets. They 'throve,’ as Davis put it. Constipation was 'unknown.’ Colds lasted for only three days. When the children were growing and needed protein, their protein intake shot up. When the growing slowed and activity increased, their energy intake increased. During the one 'epidemic'—an outbreak of 'acute glandular fever of Pfeiffer’ (now called mononucleosis) during which every child 'came down like ninepins'—there was a curious spike in the consumption of raw beef, carrots, and beets as the children convalesced.

Several babies began the study in poor condition. Four were undernourished and three had rickets, a vitamin D deficiency. The very first infant Davis received, in fact, had a severe case of rickets and with each meal was given a small glass of cod liver oil, which contains vitamin D. Children’s hatred of cod liver is legendary, but this child consumed it 'irregularly and in varying amounts’ of his own free will until he was better, then never touched another drop.

These children, Davis found, were master nutritionists. By the end of the study, their overall state of health was so good that another pediatrician, one Dr. Joseph Brennemann, called them 'the finest group of specimens from the physical and behavior standpoint that I have ever seen in children that age.’

—  Mark Schatzker, The Dorito Effect

Sweet & Spicy Cabbage Wraps
I filled these up with raw golden beet noodles (marinated in lemon juice and cumin), mango, red onion, cherry tomatoes, sliced almonds, green onion and nutritional yeast. The dipping sauce was my favorite combination of mango and dates

Super Saturday Salad

This is definitely one of the better salads I’ve made in a while. Although pomegranate seeds are a bit of a splurge, they add bursts of flavor that are incredible on salads and I highly recommend them.

  • Spinach
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar