FEATURED RECIPE: MINTED WATERMELON SALAD

December 18th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Every year, around this time, I often find myself feeling the winter woes. The birds chirping outside my window have been replaced with the whipping, blistering winds. It’s also around this time of year that I’m reminded of how some folks have a hard time finding watermelon in their local grocery stores.

If you are able to track one down (ask your produce manager!), you have to try this recipe for Minted Watermelon Salad! And if you can’t find yellow watermelon, go ahead and just use more red watermelon.

MINTED WATERMELON SALADpic

INGREDIENTS

1 small (2 ½ pounds) seedless red watermelon

1 small (2 ½ pounds) seedless yellow watermelon

2 ounces ricotta salata

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt, preferably Maldon

3 tablespoons sliced, fresh mint

DIRECTIONS

Using a sharp knife, cut off rinds from watermelons. (You should have a total of two pounds peeled fruit.) Quarter each melon, and then cut into 3-inch-long, ¼-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on a serving platter.

Using a vegetable peeler, shave paper-thin slices of ricotta salata over watermelon. Sprinkle with salt and mint, and serve immediately.

UP NEXT: A watermelon gift that will help you stay sharp

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NATIONAL WATERMELON ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE CELEBRATES 100 YEARS (AND A NEW WATERMELON QUEEN!)

December 17th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Each year, members of the National Watermelon Association (NWA) convene for the NWA’s annual convention. It’s a pretty big deal, and anyone who’s anyone in the watermelon industry is in attendance.

This year’s convention, held in Savannah, Georgia, was especially significant because it marked the 100th anniversary of the NWA. In addition to lots of meetings and seminars about watermelon, the convention also features a watermelon seed-spitting contest, a watermelon eating contest, and the crowning of the new National Watermelon Queen (stay tuned for a blog entry with an interview with the new queen).

In addition to the convention being the 100th anniversary of the NWA, it’s also the 25th anniversary of the National Watermelon Promotion Board and the 50th anniversary of the National Watermelon Queen program!

The convention also includes an auction – with sports memorabilia and truckloads of watermelon among the items – which this year raised a record $632,260. The total will be used to fund a majority of the National Watermelon Association’s annual budget.

watermelon presidents

Because the convention marked the 100th anniversary of the National Watermelon Association, they took some time to recognize some of the many NWA presidents who have served over the past century.

watermelon team

Like I mentioned, the various state and regional watermelon queens competed at the conference for the title of National Watermelon Queen, and the winner was Florida Watermelon Queen Brandi Harrison! Above is Brandi with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ross Chastain (right), whose #92 Ford is sponsored by watermelon.

watermelon eating contest

The convention hosted a friendly watermelon-eating contest. It’s nice to see that they provided the competitors with raincoat-like smocks to protect them during the messy contest. Somehow, I doubt smocks will be provided for the eating contest I’ll participate in later this summer.

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GIFTS FOR WATERMELON LOVERS: A WATERMELON DIP BOWL!

December 15th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

I love dip. Ranch dip, french onion dip, nacho cheese dip. If you give me a chip and something to dip it in, there’s a 99.9 percent chance that I’ll be dippin’ it. And, yes, I do observe the golden rule about not double dipping. Unless I’m at home, and then I double dip like there’s no tomorrow.

If you love a good dip as much as I do, you’ll love this week’s prize: the watermelon dip bowl you see on the right (available on ChristmasTreeShops.com). The bowl is ceramic and comes with a matching watermelon-themed spreader knife.pic

I’ll choose one comment at random to win it. To get the conversation started, leave a comment with an answer to this question:

What’s your favorite chip AND your favorite dip?

UP NEXT: The best salad you’ll ever eat?

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FEATURED RECIPE: WATERMELLO DESSERT

December 12th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

If you’re anything like me, dessert is the most important meal of the day. For fellow dessert enthusiasts, the holidays are the focal point of all food sweet, sugary and delicious.

But when it comes to the right dessert to end your holiday feast, the possibilities are virtually endless: pumpkin pie, cheesecake, truffles, fruitcake and mountains of Christmas cookies. Before I get too hungry from naming off those delicious holiday favorites, here’s my suggestion: ditch the fruitcake and enjoy some Watermello Dessert!

WATERMELLO DESSERT 

INGREDIENTSpic

2 packages (3 ounces each) lime gelatin

6 cups boiling water, divided

1 package (3 ounces) watermelon gelatin

1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1/3 cup cold water

1-1/2 cups white grape juice

1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, dissolve lime gelatin in three cups boiling water. Pour into an 8-in. square dish coated with cooking spray. In another large bowl, combine watermelon and strawberry gelatins; stir in the remaining boiling water until gelatin is dissolved. Pour into another 8-in. square dish coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate both dishes until gelatin is very firm.

Meanwhile, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over cold water; let stand for one minute. In a small saucepan, bring grape juice to a boil; stir in softened unflavored gelatin. Stir over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Pour into a large bowl; refrigerate for 45 minutes or until slightly thickened. Gently fold in two cups whipped topping.

Cut green gelatin into ½-in. cubes and red gelatin into 1-in. cubes. Place two cups whipped topping mixture in a large bowl; fold in green gelatin. Spread into a 13-in. x 9-in. dish coated with cooking spray. Fold red gelatin into remaining whipped topping; spread over green gelatin layer. Refrigerate for two hours or until set. Cut into squares and serve!

UP NEXT: A watermelon gift you’ll want to take a dip in

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GIFTS FOR WATERMELON LOVERS: A WATERMELON UMBRELLA!

December 8th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Depending upon where you live, any precipitation you might get this month will probably fall in the form of snowflakes, not rain drops. Oh, sure, some of you might get rain. Fans in Florida (shout out to the National Watermelon Promotion Board!) and other southern states probably won’t see much snow. Same with Texas, California and other warm states. For them, the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” has little or no meaning, and that, you have to admit, is a tiny bit sad.

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I’m sure they’re not too heartbroken about it. After all, they’ll wake up on Christmas morning to a beautiful, sunny day and 60-degree temperatures right around the same time most of us in the northeast are cursing the winter chill and counting down the days until spring.

Either way, we all need an umbrella at some point during the year — even if Floridians need it a little less often — which is why I’m giving away the colorful watermelon umbrella you see above ($19 on FeelGift.com) as this week’s “gift for watermelon lovers” to one commenter chosen at random from all the comments left on the blog this month.

Like the website says, it’s great for rainy days, but it also doubles as a shady escape on sunny days. Another perk: You’ll never accidentally grab the wrong umbrella from the bin again, because there’s a pretty good chance that it’ll be the only red umbrella with watermelon seeds on it.

UP NEXT: A very jiggly recipe

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WHICH OF THESE WATERMELON DRINKS WOULD YOU TRY FIRST?

December 5th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

As the holiday season settles in, I can’t help but smile when I think of the many festivities that the next month will bring. Of all the Christmas traditions that exist, holiday parties have become a popular and enjoyable way to ring in the season. Family, friends and coworkers come together in their best (and worst) festive sweaters to partake in a long-standing Christmas tradition to eat, drink and be merry (emphasis on drink!).

This holiday season, I’ll be celebrating a lesser-known-but-equally-important holiday known as Repeal Day. Celebrated each year on December 5 (that’s today!), Repeal Day marks the 1933 end of the 14-year national ban on alcohol known as Prohibition.

The best part about Repeal Day? It’s so easy to celebrate! Just grab your favorite alcoholic beverage, and you’re already exercising your right to drink and be merry! In observance of Repeal Day, below are a few watermelon-flavored beverages and watermelon-inspired recipes for those who are both naughty and nice.

Hell or High Watermelon  Wheat Beer

WATERMELON BEVERAGES

Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer – What better way to celebrate Repeal Day than with a cold, refreshing can of American rights? This light wheat beer is infused with flavors of watermelon.

Dekuyper Watermelon Pucker – From mixed drinks to shots, this is a staple for many watermelon concoctions. (You can see some of my favorites below!)

Jack Daniel’s Watermelon Punch – In a perfect marriage of Jack Daniels and my beloved watermelon, the whiskey giant has a winning malt liquor beverage perfect for any holiday get-together!

Bacardi Grand Melon – How many watermelons does it take to make a bottle of Bacardi Grand Melon? I don’t know, but it sure tastes good!

WATERMELON DRINK RECIPES

Watermelon Snowball – This sweet and simple cocktail is perfect for the snowy days ahead!

Watermelon Champagne Sangria – We’re putting a new spin on an old favorite with this recipe for Watermelon Champagne Sangria. Pairs best with a fireside night…and watermelon, of course!

Jolly Rancher Martinis – Spice up your office Christmas party with Watermelon Jolly Rancher martinis!

Big Breezy – Definitely the most interesting option on the holiday cocktail menu, the Big Breezy has something for everyone.

Remember, always enjoy responsibly!

For more drink recipes using watermelon, check out the “Cocktails” section of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: A watermelon gift that will keep you dry

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GIFTS FOR WATERMELON LOVERS: A WATERMELON ORNAMENT!

December 2nd, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

I may have mentioned briefly in the past a peculiar-but-fun Christmas tradition involving a pickle hidden on a Christmas tree. And, yes, I know that’s not a pickle in the image on the right. (More on that juicy ornament later in this blog entry.)pic

For those who aren’t familiar, the Christmas pickle is a popular holiday game (mostly in America) that involves hiding a pickle on the family tree. The first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning receives an extra present or “good fortune” in the New Year. (Though I’m sure you can guess which option 99 children out of 100 would choose.)

It’s worth noting that the pickle is an ornament, and not a real pickle. If you find yourself without a pickle ornament, you can use a real pickle if you really want, but just be sure to find the pickle before it gets all shriveled…or before the dog finds it.

While the origins of the pickle tradition are unclear, many claim that it began in Germany, where it was known as Weihnachtsgurke. That legend has since been disproven, and many yuletide scholars believe the game got its start in the late 19th century, right here in the United States.

Regardless of where its roots are, the activity is a fun one for kids and adults alike. At my house, we have a Christmas pickle on our annual tree, although, while last year’s pickle was dropped and broken, it was quickly replaced a few days later.

That leads us, in what is probably the longest segue ever on What About Watermelon, to the first of FOUR gifts I’ll be giving away here on the blog this month. It’s the watermelon tree ornament you see above ($13 on Amazon). I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog THIS WEEK to win this tree accessory, which means you’ll receive it before Christmas!

UP NEXT: Some of the best watermelon-themed “adult” beverages

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ASK THE EXPERTS: HOW DID PEOPLE DISCOVER THAT WATERMELON WAS GOOD TO EAT?

November 28th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

RICHARD & NERI ASK: My wife and I were eating watermelon slices and had an out of the blue question that we thought to research. We were wondering how humans came to know about the watermelon fruit. May sound silly, but how did we even know that watermelons were edible (and extremely delicious)? My wife thinks that we came to know about these refreshing fruits by looking at animals eat it. Is this right?

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I like this question, Richard and Neri, because it forces me to travel back into time to imagine what life was like 50,000 years ago — before the automobile, before reality TV and before 4G wireless networks.

This is just my own non-expert guess, but I suppose much of the prehistoric culinary decisions  — much like our modern dining choices — came down to simple trial and error. Here’s how a typical grocery-shopping conversation between two Neanderthal hunter-gatherers might have gone:

CAVEMAN #1: “Unngh! That plant with purple pointed leaves bad!”

CAVEMAN #2: “For sure. Remember what happen when Grog ate it last Thursday? He no feel so good after.”

CAVEMAN #1: “Hmmmm, yes. When he feel better, we make him eat that round green thing with red inside. I call it, water melon.”

CAVEMAN #2: “Good idea. Grog eat anything! But you need to work on name of melon. Something more creative.”

CAVEMAN #1: “Okay. That name will do for now. Hey, you want to go throw rocks at the tiger with big pointy teeth?”

At least that’s how I imagine the discussion went between our prehistoric counterparts. They were smarter than we give them credit for, because they at least relied on brave diners like Grog to test different foods beforehand (even if they also threw rocks at Saber-Toothed Tigers).

We still use the same methods today. Like last week, when I created a triple bacon, triple cheese pizza. It tasted good, but, like Grog, I no feel so good after.

UP NEXT: A FESTIVE GIFT FOR WATERMELON LOVERS

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

November 26th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a former competitive eater. Which is why it should come as no surprise that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s the one day of the year during which everyone can put their diets aside and tap into their inner competitive eater.

Of course, a bountiful feast is only one part of the holiday. The other part is the whole “giving thanks” thing. So, in between bites of turkey and stuffing, try to take some time to reflect on what you’re thankful for this year. I’m thankful for my family, for my health and for the chance to write about something I love (watermelon!) here on this blog.

Leave a comment below with what you’re thankful for this year. While you think about it, here are a few strange Thanksgiving facts for you to chat about around the table this year:

– Did you know that Thanksgiving gets partial credit for the invention of the TV dinner? When the folks at Swanson misjudged the number of turkeys they’d sell in 1953 (they were off by 26 TONS), a member of the company’s team came up with the idea to slice up the extra turkey and repackage it with side dishes in easy-to-prepare frozen meals.

– The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers. We won’t go into details on this one, and it’s probably best NOT to talk about this fact around the dinner table

– Ben Franklin once led an effort to make the turkey our national bird. According to Franklin, the bald eagle had “bad moral character,” while the turkey was a “much more respectable bird.” (More respectable and more delicious!

– Turkey was actually NOT served at the first Thanksgiving feast…at least not that we know of. Pretty much the only things that we do know were on the menu were venison, corn and fish. They did serve various types of fowl, but turkeys were likely not one of them. Oh, and there was no watermelon at the first Thanksgiving, despite what my edits to the photo above might suggest.

UP NEXT: How did people discover that watermelon was good to eat?

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LOVE WATERMELON? YOU’LL LOVE AQUAMELON WATER!

November 24th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

In July, I wrote about Tsamma juice, a watermelon-based drink that aimed to finally put watermelon juice on the fruit juice map. Today, I’m excited to announce yet another refreshing option called AquaMelon Water.

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The drink was created by Desmond Williams, a business administration graduate student at the University of South Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Williams is a runner, who puts wedges of watermelon in his freezer for a post-run snack. That simple idea was the inspiration behind AquaMelon Water.

But Williams also discovered a University of Florida study that gives the drink some very real health benefits. Results from the 2010 study showed the ability of watermelon juice to decrease blood pressure in some people, thanks to the amino acid, citrulline, found in watermelon juice.

With a great idea in place, Williams entered AquaMelon Water in start-up business competitions, with the goal of winning enough money to take the product to production. And, wouldn’t you know it, his idea was a winner! AquaMelon Water won the USF Fintech Business Plan Competition (and a $20,000 prize) and was runner-up at the Florida Venture Forum.

So what’s the future hold for AquaMelon Water? Time will tell, but I really hope to see it on shelves at my local grocery store soon!

UP NEXT: Some Thanksgiving facts you can use to impress your guests

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