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Opposing cut or chigai-giri: The easiest ever decorative cutting technique for bananas, cucumbers and more

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A couple of people asked about the twist-cut banana slices that were tucked into a corner of the scotch egg bento. This is actually a very simple decorative cutting technique that can be done in a couple of minutes, even if you are a beginner. I learned how to do this cut back in my first year of middle school (7th grade in U.S. school terms, or when I was 12-13) in home economics class. It’s usually called chigai giri (違い切り) or ‘opposing cut’ in Japanese. I also call it the ‘twist cut’, since the business end of the cut looks twisted to me.

There’s more than one way to do this cut, but here’s the way I learned how to do it. It still works best for me. continue reading...

Fun with Japanese egg molds

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Something fun from the archives, in keeping with Easter. Incidentally, I haven’t been able to update Just Bento this week due to a sudden change of plans, but I’ll be back next week with frugal bento recipes and more. So until then…enjoy your weekend!

Egg molds are a fairly easy way to add some cuteness to a bento box. They are meant for kids’ bentos, but there’s nothing to stop you from using them for yourself of course. I usually can’t be bothered to make molded eggs for everyday bentos, but for picnics and parties they are quite a lot of fun.

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Egg molds are offered by various online sources such as J-List and eBay merchants (see the left sidebar for some listings), as well as at 100 yen stores. There are two types of egg molds: one has a simple clamshell shape with a fastener, and the other has a inner half-shell. You can use the latter kind without the inner half-shell too. Either way, be sure you get one that has the clamshell shape and the closing fastener - these features are what make an egg mold work properly. continue reading...

Carrot and cheese stars, flowers, hearts

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A very simple yet effective bento decoration, suitable for all types of bento. continue reading...

Fun with sweet dessert bentos

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This is a guest post by Smalerie, who blogs about bento making and her other hobbies in her blog Boston Bento. Here she shows us how to make fun sweet dessert bentos to share with friends…or, well, I guess you could reserve one for yourself for a super-indulgent occasion too ^_^; -(maki) continue reading...

Apple Bunnies and More: Decorative Apple Cutting Techniques

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Apples are such great fruit - available almost any time of the year, inexpensive, and handy. While simple apple slices or even a whole apple are welcome additions to a bento box, if you just spend a few minutes cutting the pieces in decorative ways, they can really perk up your bentoscape, as Tracy showed us in the last post.

We sort of grow up in Japan knowing how to do some fairly simple apple cutting techniques. (Or at least, I remember my mother and aunties doing this sort of thing when I was little.) Here are some that you could use, from the basic to the more complicated. continue reading...

Decorate bentos with your own stickers

Bento Challenge Week 4, Day 4

As I’ve stated here on these pages several times, while I greatly admire the artistry and skill of kyaraben/charaben artists, I rarely have the time to do such cute things. Not that I don’t like to get artsy and crafty - I do. But there are much easier ways of doing that. Why bother with cute touches to your bentos? Why, to put a smile on someone’s face of course, including your own. continue reading...

Bento Filler: Orange Juice Carrots

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What, yet another carrot recipe? Well I do like carrots, and they are so handy - available year-round, cheap, and long-lasting in the refrigerator. This one may not look like much, but it tastes very interesting - a little sweet, a little sour, just a little bitter, with an underlying heat. This was originally presented as a dessert in one of my Japanese cookbooks (but I can’t for the life of me remember which one); the original had I believe maple syrup and/or honey in it, which I have mostly omitted. Instead I’ve added salt and a little soy sauce. It makes a nice contrasting accent in a bento, like a salad. Cutting the carrot slices into odd shapes is strictly optional. continue reading...

Bento no. 54: Hallowe'en Zombie Kitty Bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 480 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: Way too long! (About 2 hours)

Type: Japanese, kyaraben/charaban, special occasion, Homage to The Kitty continue reading...