Monday, January 17, 2011

Bento Box Blooms: a floral centrepiece

This is a variation on the Jane Packer Bento Box (Japanese lunch box) design I learnt at her flower school in London, using plants from the garden and the New Covent Garden Market.  It is such a cute idea - very visually appealing and sure to illicet "oohs" and "ahhs" from its recipients. 

The box comes complete with chopsticks, of course!

Bento Box Blooms Recipe:
  • 5 lime roses
  • 2 stems of brunei nuts, leaves reserved
  • 6 Hens and Chicks succulents
  • 1 stem/ cluster of Blue Finger succulents
  • 3 stems of yellow chillies (or 15-20 individual chillis)
  • 2 patches of moss 
  • 1 open-top rectangular or square box (min. 8cm or 3 " deep).  You can use any box material as it will be lined with plastic.
  • cellophane or plastic sheeting (enough to cover the inside of the box)
  • 1 bamboo or cane stick (4x the length of your box)
  • 1 skewer or fine stick (for making holes in the foam)
  • 2 blocks of floral foam
  • 1 pair of chopsticks

You will need to saw your cane or bamboo into four fairly slender pieces.  Measure the inside of your box first for the lengths of the bamboo you will need.  Lay them to make a grid and bind them at the joins by winding the raffia diagonally each way and then tying a knot underneath. 

Using a kitchen knife, cut the floral foam (available at discount stores or floristry suppliers) into the sizes you require.  Drop your measured and trimmed foam pieces in a bucket of water and let them slowly sink to the bottom.  Soak for a couple of hours.  Don't dunk the foam under the water as it won't absorb the water through to the centre - you'll end up with thirsty, sad little specimens. 

Line your box with cellophane or plastic sheeting (making sure there are no nicks or cuts in the lining from over-enthusiastic waving of scissors...)

Trim your lining around the rim of the box once you have fitted the foam blocks (not too low or the water will leak out). Pop your little bamboo grid creation on top so it sits just near the rim of the box.

Trim your rose stems on an angle (more surface area to take up water) to 5cm or 2 " long.  Trim the rest of your stems for the bento box to the same length.  Make sure you reserve the leaves from the brunei nuts as you can use them on their own for one of your bento squares.

If you have any soft stems that may crumple as you load them into the foam, use a skewer to make a hole for them to sit in.  Once you have finished arranging the bento box squares, poke in a pair of chopsticks (I've used ones from our local take-out) for a mouth-watering finish.

The perfect accompaniment to a sushi lunch, this box is sure to add a bit of fun and quirkiness!

douzo meshiagare !  (Japanese for bon appétit)

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