Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
I know this is supposed to be a baking blog, but I couldn’t resist posting my latest adventure in the kitchen. They are so cute!!!
The extended family went to the Marina Barrage for a Labour Day picnic and these character bentos were part of my contribution. This was my first attempt at kyarabens, so don’t expect anything too fancy.
If you run a Google search on kyaraben or character bento, you’ll find a gazillion pictures of too-gorgeous-to-eat meals that are way better than mine, but I thought I’d post for the fun of it anyway.
Kyarabens are usually made in little lunch boxes, but since we were feeding an army of relatives and I didn’t have that many little lunchboxes lying around the house, I went ahead and made BIG kyarabens for sharing instead. Anyway, communal dining has always been a normal part of the Asian/Chinese lifestyle.
I used 12-inch pizza boxes lined with waxed paper. Somewhere in my head, I had envisioned 4 neat little sections, each with its own character. Barely into the first kyaraben, I realised this was not the most feasible idea in the world when Miffy the rabbit and Mr Teddy Bear are humongous compared to Ultraman, while Angry Birds/eggs are relegated to a tiny corner of the box, leaving a big gaping hole in said bento.
Heck it. I free-styled from that point onward and filled in the gaps with whatever veggie cutouts, grapes, lemon wedges, scoops of potato salad, smoked duck and random piece of inarizushi that came to hand. Kind of haphazard looking.
Some critics feel that kyarabens create food wastage but that is unfounded. It really depends on your creativity to maximise all the ingredients and even leftovers. For instance, after removing the florets, I shaved and sliced the outer stem of the broccoli and then cut little “wheels” out of the slices. A quick blanch in boiling water makes sweet crunchy little circles that could become vehicle wheels or a pedestal to prop up smaller items or simply to add interest and colour.
All the scraps from stamping/cutting out veggie, fruit or ham shapes are then minced finely and used to make omelette, fried rice, confetti… etc. In Box #1, I used this method to make the cute floral omelette blanket for Miffy.
These were a hit with the kids. It’s a great way to dupe kids into eating more fruit and vegetables or get them excited about trying new, unfamiliar foods. For grownups, you get your five-a-day easily and lots of fibre from the copious amounts of fruits, veggies and unpolished rice (I used unpolished black rice and Japanese short-grain).