Skip to content

[Science Words]

Yesterday I came home to find Scott and his friend Doug peering over a bucket in the driveway and cackling like the witches in Macbeth. 

Scott is a physicist, so I’m getting used to experiments in the driveway.  And I’m getting used to conversations that go like this:

SCOTT:     Look what I made!

ME:     Oooh, what is it?

SCOTT:     It’s a bluetooth-controlled/GPS-enabled/nanobot-assembled/sugar-metabolizing [science word]!!

ME:     What does it do?


ME:     Uh huh.  We totally need one of those.

When we moved in together, the man brought lasers and small explosions to the relationship the way I brought a yoga mat and a box of books.  I thought it was cool, too.  I was like, wow, look at this skill he has.  Look at how different we are.  Look at that soldering iron or whatever.   That lasted for about a year.  Now I open the freezer and I’m like JESUS CHRIST, WHY IS THERE A DEAD TROPICAL FISH LOOSELY WRAPPED IN A PAPER TOWEL ON TOP OF THE ICE TRAY?  (He came with a saltwater aquarium, too.)

But like I was saying: I wasn’t surprised to see Scott in the driveway, but I was disturbed by the presence of Doug.  The last thing my universe needs is for Doug to start showing up after work with buckets of chemicals.

I was also disturbed to see that Doug was wearing a ski mask.

So I got out of the car to ask what they were doing and right then, Doug yelled “3, 2, 1. . . GO!” and Scott dumped something into the bucket and –BOOM!–our entire yard filled up with a billowy white gas.  THE. ENTIRE. YARD.

Scott and Doug cheered and I got back in the car as a safety precaution and the guy walking his dog across the street pulled out his cell phone because obviously we were a bunch of terrorists and this was finally his moment to SEE SOMETHING AND SAY SOMETHING.


When the fog cleared, the guys explained a couple things:

One, they had been asked to do a science demonstration at a local elementary school.

Two, they had to practice because they had no idea how many chemicals to use.

And three, could they borrow a trash can and a large pot.

This is why we need to increase education spending, you guys.  Our kids are learning science from two neighborhood dudes, a trashcan and a pot.  

I gave them a trashcan and a pot and then I went inside to watch from the kitchen window as the rest of the experiment unfolded like an amateur World War I reenactment, with lots of gas and yelling and hiding behind trees.daffodilsWhile the battle raged outside, I helped myself to some soup.lemon and dill This soup is a light broth stocked with chicken, orzo, lemon and dill.  It’s perfect for springtime.chicken orzo soup with lemonJust make sure you rinse the pot thoroughly before you starting cooking.  There could be [SCIENCE WORDS] and stuff in there.lemon and orzo soupSpring Chicken & Orzo Soup {Download & Print Recipe}
adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit, April 2013


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large leek, white & pale green parts only, sliced vertically, rinsed, and sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds

2 stalks celery, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat

8 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. orzo

1/4 c. chopped fresh dill

2 lemons, for squeezing over the soup at the table


In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, sauté the leek and celery in the olive oil until they’re soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Do not let them brown.  Add the chicken and the broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook until the chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.  Fish out the chicken and put it on a plate to cool.

Bring the broth back to a boil and add the orzo.  Boil uncovered until the orzo is done, about 10 minutes.  In the meantime, shred the chicken with your fingers.

When the orzo is done, turn off the heat and add the chicken and the dill.  If the soup isn’t brothy enough for you, add a little more broth and warm it over low heat.  Taste the soup and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.  Serve with halves of lemon, for squeezing into each bowl.


Thunder in the sunThe fog has cleared, and Thunder can bask again in the sun on her window seat.


40 Comments Post a comment
  1. As a retired teacher, I am thankful that they tried their experiment out beofre bringing it to school. You have my sympathy!!!!!

    May 1, 2014
    • HA! What did you teach? (And have you successfully imparted any of this knowledge to the scotties?)

      May 1, 2014
  2. Sarah #

    As a chemist I am so intrigued – what reaction did they do?

    May 1, 2014
    • Well, Sarah, you will be disappointed. In the end they decided to just dump a LOT of very hot water into a LOT of liquid nitrogen.

      May 1, 2014
      • One of our favorite “games” to play with visitors to our lab or with middle and high school aged students is “Will it freeze if we put it in liquid nitrogen?” It even captivates the adults. So fun.

        You should totally get some of that liquid nitrogen to make ice cream in a flash. Also fun, with the bonus of being edible.

        And seriously, that soup sings springtime and I want it asap.

        May 8, 2014
      • Sarah #

        Liquid nitrogen is cool 🙂 It’s a spectacular view – and fun for the kids. Hopefully it will get them interested in science!
        At a christmas party when I was a just a young undergrad one of the older, cooler grad students in my group took my access card and dropped it in liquid nitrogen and then broke it into a thousand pieces – it was a little hard to explain the access-card-making-staff why I needed a new card the next day…

        May 8, 2014
  3. On the one hand, that sounds rather cool. On the other hand, it could get old fast. I wish Scott good luck with the experiment, and let us know how it goes over at the school!

    May 1, 2014
    • Right now they are debating whether they can do the experiment inside in the auditorium, or whether they have to do it outside so that there’s enough oxygen. I was like, dudes. When you’re even TALKING about whether there’s enough oxygen, you’re in a bad place.

      May 1, 2014
  4. Dude. I am with you on the jargon. My husband makes video games. There are many conversations (especially involving other game people) that I can listen to, understand every word, and still have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. I think he makes some of the words up. “Interpolation” isn’t a real thing is it? “Dongle?” For real. He actually used it in a sentence the other day with a serious expression on his face. Like it was a real word that meant something besides “twiddly bits.” Anyway, sometimes the best thing to do is duck and cover and for frak’s sake keep ahold of your dongle.

    May 1, 2014
    • HA! This is hilarious. We should make a t-shirt that says KEEP CALM AND GRAB AHOLD OF YOUR DONGLE.

      May 1, 2014
      • Dayna #

        And now I have a wedding gift for y’all – custom tshirts: “Dongle” and “I’m holding my Dongle”

        May 1, 2014
        • I mean, I’m still looking for something to wear to the after-party, and I think this might be it.

          May 1, 2014
  5. Please don’t risk life and/or limb, but your readers would thoroughly enjoy photos of science experiments in progress. 🙂

    May 1, 2014
    • Okay, you got it. I’ll put one up on facebook!

      May 1, 2014
  6. Lyn M #

    I second the need for science experiment photos.

    May 1, 2014
    • Word. I’ll put one up on facebook!

      May 1, 2014
  7. Oh man, it’s good they tested out their experiment first! If I were you, I would have made them go get their own pot, or some kind of explosion-proof hardware store bucket… or at least given them a pot that I never again intended to use for any cooking…

    (That soup looks so comforting! I love love LOVE lemony soups.)

    May 1, 2014
  8. The soup looks great and perfect for spring! I sympathize about the science-y words. When my boyfriend (an aerospace PhD student) and I first started dating, he would talk about “fractals” and “Galerkin methods” (which I told him sounded like “gherkin,” so in my mind I now think of him researching pickling methods) and other science-y mumbo-jumbo at ungodly hours of the night and morning. Oy.

    May 1, 2014
  9. Love this soup, and your Thunder is just adorable. I thinking that she probably stays clear of all experiments.

    May 1, 2014
  10. This is what I call COMFORT FOOD! the orzo is such a great ingredient in soups!
    Thunder is great, as always!

    May 1, 2014
  11. jenny_o #

    “…they had no idea how many chemicals to use” … this is both disturbing and funny 🙂

    Thunder looks so zen …

    May 1, 2014
    • Yes, that made me laugh too. The whole thing, actually. . .

      May 2, 2014
  12. Kristen Corrie #

    Can I just say you make me laugh! The recipe sounds a bit like like avgolemeno (sp.?), which means I must try it – yum!

    May 1, 2014
  13. Stephbo #

    When I was in high school, I had two friends who made napalm in the back yard. Napalm. In the back yard. Of a suburb. And this was before the internet. I have no idea how they even got the recipe. They burned off their eyebrows. Here’s hoping that Scott will have eyebrows for your wedding!

    May 2, 2014
  14. Ginger Cobl #

    You’re too funny, how is it that you don’t have your own show yet? The soup looks amazing!

    May 2, 2014
  15. Reading this makes me almost thankful that some of my husband’s mischief-making buddies aren’t close by, because I could definitely see them getting into scrapes like this and use [science words] as some sort of justification. But now I’m curious to see what they could get up to.

    Related: I’m going to start using [science words] way more often!

    May 2, 2014
  16. FloridaGirl #

    Wow! Very clever post! I literally LOL’d! Thanks for the chuckle:)

    May 2, 2014
  17. Great photos! Am trying to figure out how to adapt the soup to be vegetarian!

    May 2, 2014
  18. That soup looks delish! And I can totally relate to the partner gibberish-but-actually-real-words-just-words-I-don’t-use speak. Haven’t had to adjust to tropical fish in the freezer, though – bonus points for that.

    May 2, 2014
  19. A funny tale and delicious soup ~

    May 3, 2014
  20. texascritter #

    LOL at the science words! And the soup is wonderful, made it last night and the lemon makes it extra special!

    Now my only problem is what to do with the two remaining leeks – the grocery only sold them in bunches of three!

    May 3, 2014
    • Oh I’m thrilled that you like it! You know, I used to use chicken breasts for soups but I switched to thighs for this, and I might be convinced to make the switch all the time now. It’s just so much more tender, and it shreds nicely.

      I don’t know what to do with my leeks either! Like you, I have two left over. Did you do anything with them this week? I guess I should make quiche? Or potato leek soup? It’s getting kind of warm for potato leek soup. I made braised leeks once but didn’t really like the texture.

      May 8, 2014

    Ahhhh, so needed that tonight. Thanks!

    May 5, 2014
  22. I love your writing. My boyfriend is extremely tech-savy and science-y, so I have had many a conversation where I just hear [science words], but you expressed it so well! And the soup looks delicious and springy. Thank you!

    May 5, 2014
    • Melissa, thank you for the kind note. I’m glad to hear that you’re in a similar situation and you know what I mean! Best of luck to you, sister.

      May 8, 2014
  23. As a precaustion, maybe you should wear a helmet in and around the house. You know, in case of falling objects. On a lighter note, this soup sounds delicious and bright.

    May 13, 2014
  24. Amy #

    Haha, let’s hope your neighbors didn’t call the police! Sounds like it’s pretty fun with a science guy around…perhaps he can perform an experiment at your wedding 😉 And this soup looks perfect for spring. Love all the flavors!

    May 13, 2014
    • The possibility of liquid nitrogen ice cream at the dessert station has definitely been discussed, for better or worse…

      May 13, 2014
  25. That is an adorable story.

    May 14, 2014
  26. Amazing, I will cook it it for dinner:)

    May 20, 2014

Leave a Reply to CakePants Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s