Slice of Life Tuesday: A Little of This…

You know that show, “Chopped?” It’s the one where four professional chefs compete against each other using mystery ingredients from a basket. It’s a test of skill and creativity.

It ALSO happened to be the source of one of my most genius moments in parenting. You see, my boys watched that show and loved it as much as I did.

Lo and behold, our family “Chopped” was born. Just like the game show, we would host a three-round competition spanning appetizers, main courses and desserts. Each course involved a “mystery basket” of 3-4 ingredients that everyone would have to synthesize into their own dish. My sons and I would take turns pulling mystery ingredients out of the fridge and pantry.* We’d give ourselves 20 minutes to prepare our dish, and we’d taste and judge our handiwork after each course. Each round would have its own winner, and we’d crown a champion of the day. It was, in my own humble estimation, a pretty crafty way to get rid of a bunch of leftovers from the fridge.

It’s also a pretty crafty metaphor for writing:
1. You’ve got to work with what you have.
2. People can work with the same prompt and be wildly different.
3. Sometimes you have a bunch of fun.
4. Sometimes it’s a flaming mess.
5. It’s a LOT of pressure.
6. But pretty satisfying nonetheless.

*My husband wisely recused himself from the game, most likely because he would have beaten the pants off us every time. That, and the fact that he has standards for what he will put into his mouth-hole.


One of the more successful desserts we’ve had. I believe we were working with graham crackers, almonds and jam.

Some kind of cherry-chocolate thing that was so sweet it nearly melted my teeth off.

This tasted…pretty much how it looked. But behold! Someone broke out the fancy china!
(The judges were unmoved.)

Just like in writing, you can TRY to be all super-fancy, but remember it can backfire on ya.

I once had a coach who said, “In order to have GOOD ideas, you have to have a LOT of ideas.” This…was an idea. I’ll just leave that there.

Thanks, as always, to the folks at Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life.
Give ’em a peek!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: A Little of This…

  1. I loved everything about this slice. I loved your family “Chopped” idea. I loved the comparison to writing. Above all, I loved your humorous voice. Thank you for this fabulous piece of writing.

  2. I really like this idea for food and for writing. It reminded me of something I did. I had several large manilla envelopes. One had pictures of people. One had animals. One had places. One had modes of transportation. Students picked a picture from each and had to incorporate them in their story. We had fun with it.

  3. Writing as an experiment? Perfect analogy. I also love any idea that counters picky-eater syndrome with kids. (I just spent some time with family members who are struggling with that issue.) Fun to read, just as everyone said, and the photos are…perhaps not equally appealing but certainly speak to the fact that not every experiment is a success. (I may try the graham cracker combo tho.’)

  4. Dear Ms. Lainie:

    First and foremost, I love Chopped, too! We are indeed a Chopped family, and I find this idea to be scrumptious on so many levels.

    I love the courage of your budding chefs to attack the challenges with fervor and fidelity. I love the clever mom who quickly disposed of leftovers without the inherent ire that comes with, “I don’t want to eat that.” I love the opportunity to do your best under pressure and accept the outcomes with pride, regardless of how they come out, and I am elated with how you paralleled the adventures of writing.

    You are right.

    Cheers to you for your ingenuity, supermomness, and wonderful inclination to create an indelible family memory. You are clearly the champion on this one, and I’m all here for it.

    #simplyphenomenal

    ~Dr. Carla Michelle Brown

  5. Lainie, your captions are my faves! We’ve discussed this idea at home, but have never gone through with it. My husband loves to cook. My daughter enjoys all of the cooking shows, especially Nailed It! The comparison with writing hits that palate perfectly and complements creativity, our hunger for it, playing with it, and of course, tasting it. My compliments to the chefs!

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