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  • Chef Lisa

Bento Boxes, Cake Decorating & Bread Dough Ornaments

On Monday Tokeneke learned about and put together their own bento boxes.

The bento box is Japan’s version of the brown bag. It is always for lunch, and it has certain components that make it fun and interesting for young chefs. When choosing the foods for their own boxes, they should think about:

  1. Five colors: white, black, green, red and yellow

  2. Five flavors: hot, sour, bitter, sweet and salty

  3. Five methods: stir fry, simmer, deep-fry, steam and roast (grill)

  4. The food has to taste good cold

  5. Prepare in advance

When constructing the bento:

  1. Drain liquid from food

  2. Avoid mixing flavors by keeping foods separated in aluminum cups, lettuce dividers, etc…

  3. Pack the food in tightly so there is no empty space for it to move around.

  4. Cool food down before adding it to the bento.

  5. If there is an element missing from the box, include it in a drink: e.g., fruit or vegetable juices.

Bento’s components:

  1. Main dish

  2. Cooked vegetable

  3. Fresh vegetable

  4. Rice or bread

  5. Fruit or sweet

The picture and information above came from My Japanese Table by Debra Samuels.

On Tuesday at Royle and Friday at Tokeneke, the after-school, early-release classes decorated tiny cakes. The sprouting pastry chefs learned how to frost and decorate a cake. It did not take long for their creativity to sprout into some amazing cakes.

Cake Decorating

On Wednesday at Hindley and Thursday at Royle the children made non-eatable bread dough ornaments. They followed the recipe below, rolled out their own dough, cut out the ornaments and put them onto cookie sheets to be baked at home. They were encouraged to create their family members with gingerbread man, woman and children cookie cutters. Creativity was encouraged, so if they had other ideas, that was fine. They also had a chance to paint one ornament, so that they would know how to paint them at home. If the whole family gets involved in the completion of this project, that is okay! They will last longer with a coat of shellac, which is available in any hobby store or Home Depot.

Bread Dough Ornaments

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 4 cups flour

  • 1 cup salt

  • 1 1/2 cup water


1. Mix all three ingredients until it is the consistency of play dough.

2. Divide the dough in half and roll out each half on a flat floured surface using a rolling pin.

3. Use cookie cutters to cut out the ornaments.

4. Using a straw, punch a hole in the top of each ornament, in order to be able to hang them.

5. Bake ornaments for 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

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