PhenomeNOMS: Bill Nye
by Erin Parr
Welcome to the second edition of PhenomeNOMS, a look at famous geeks and the food that has either inspired them, or is inspired by them. This week’s edition features one of my all-time favorite childhood personalities and scientists: Bill Nye!
In 1993, former comedian and aeronautics consultant Bill Nye started a show called Bill Nye the Science Guy, which aired on PBS for five years. “Bill Nye the Science Guy” starred an energetic, lanky, lab coat-and-bowtie wearing scientist and a cast of young adults telling us all about how the world works – everything from nutrition to ecology, math, physics and space travel. One of the most delightful parts of the show was the “CONTRAPTION OF SCIENCE”, or whatever it happened to be that Bill was using in experiments transformed into a scientific tool, such as “Safety Glasses OF SCIENCE!”, and so forth. The delightful skits, experiments, and even taking popular hits and turning them into songs about science made Bill Nye’s television show delightful and educational. Until today I still repeat “Inertia is a property of matter! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!”, from the show’s theme song in my head. I certainly can’t be the only one.
Each show focused on a topic, and the end of the show was punctuated with a pop hit called “Sounds of Science”. Instead of the original lyrics, these songs were changed to talk about the subject of the show. For example, “Flavor of the Month” by the Posies turned into a song about ocean exploration. Even grunge rockers Mudhoney did a cover of the show’s theme song.
In 2010, Bill Nye won the Humanist of the Year award, which recognizes a person who has made significant improvement to the human condition. My interpretation of this is that Bill Nye is not only a great scientist, but a pretty swell dude, too. His passion for teaching and demystifying subjects like math and engineering has delighted children and adults for years and his show exemplified his efforts to make learning fun.
The story behind his infamous bowtie is a short one – his father taught him to tie a bowtie, and from then on be became Bill Nye the Bowtie Guy (okay, I made that up). Bill’s ability to tie bowties, plus the fact that bowties don’t fall into vats of dangerous chemicals quite like straight ties do, made them a popular choice for Bill’s everyday neckwear. In fact, there’s a delightful video of Chris Hardwick from the Nerdist learning to tie a bowtie with Bill. You can see the video here.
Our recipe today is for something I’d like to consider amazing, delicious, educational, and punny – much like the scientist himself. One of the projects that Bill Nye is most proud of was his work on creating the MarsDials, or the two sundials residing on Mars that are used to calibrate cameras of the Mars landers, and serve as a message to the future. We’re going to take a page from Bill’s book and make something round and timeless, too: Bill Nye the Science (Pot) Pie. This recipe creates a delicious, warm, savory dish, served best with a nice green salad or some soup and while listening to some scientific hits.
And remember: Bowties are cool.
Bill Nye the Science (Pot) Pie
For the crust:
1 pie pan (deep dish if you can find it)
1 package of already made two-piece pie crust (find with the crescent rolls or cookie dough in the refrigerated section)
1/2 stick of butter, softened
For the filling:
2 cups rotisserie chicken, de-skinned and roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 stick of butter, cut into pieces
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon of flour
Thaw the pie crusts according to package.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
I usually use rotisserie chickens as a great “cheat” – they’re about the same price as a package of raw chicken, and they’re cooked and ready to go! One whole rotisserie chicken makes far more chicken than this recipe calls for, so use the extra for salads, soups, or just eat cold straight from the fridge as a midnight snack.
I a large pan, melt the 1/2 stick of butter on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, shallot, flour, carrots and salt and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent, approximately 10 minutes. Add the chopped rotisserie chicken to the pan and stir to heat through. Add the sherry, rosemary, pepper, frozen peas, and chicken broth and turn the heat to high. Stir often until the liquid comes to a simmer. Turn heat to low and add the cream. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the liquid is bubbly and thickened.
Line the bottom of a deep dish pie plate with one pie crust and spoon filling into the crust. Carefully top with remaining crust and crimp or roll the edges. Cut 3-5 slits in the top of the dough for venting. At this time, you COULD cut a little dough from the edges (if there’s any to spare) and make a nice little MarsDial (think: Sundial) shape across the top. If not, though, just be sure the edges are sealed well. Smear softened butter on top of the crust. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake 30-40 minutes until the top is golden. Let cool for 30 minutes and dig in! SCIENCE RULES!
Watch all the Songs of Science videos while you cook!