2014 WATERMELON CARVING CONTEST: VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE CARVING!

August 18th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picSix weeks ago, we asked you to submit carvings for our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest, and you definitely answered the call! We received lots of carvings, and all of them were great, which made it very difficult to choose the first, second and third place winners in each of our five categories:

Best Animal Carving

Most Elegant Carving

Best Fruit Basket

Funniest Carving

Star Spangled Watermelon (patriotic carving)

The folks at the National Watermelon Promotion Board have chosen the winners in each category, and now it’s up to YOU to vote for which carving will win the $500 People’s Choice award.

To vote, stop by the 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest voting page to check out the People’s Choice award contenders and cast your vote before August 31. We’ll announce the People’s Choice winner AND the category winners on September 1. Good luck to all of the competitors, and may the best carving win!

UP NEXT: Back to school (with watermelon)

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YEP, I DROPPED MY WATERMELON

August 15th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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It was bound to happen sooner or later. Over the years, during my grocery shopping unloading chores, I’ve dropped cartons of eggs, jars of pickles and even a bottle of soda which popped its top and sent a geyser of root beer all over the kitchen.

But this past weekend, after twenty-something years of doing my own grocery shopping, I finally dropped a watermelon. You can see the results above. What you can’t see is me standing there in the parking lot next to my car, simultaneously fighting the urge to cry and yell four-letter words for all the world to hear.

The horrifying event happened in what seemed like slow motion. I placed the watermelon in a plastic grocery bag (you can see where this is headed, right?), but I didn’t double bag it. Yes, I know, I really should have double-bagged it – and I usually do – but on this day, I didn’t.

As I was lifting the bag out of the cart and moving it into the trunk of my car, the bottom of the bag suddenly opened up, and my beautiful, seedless snack began its descent to the hot pavement four feet below.

My eyes widened when I saw it happening. My free hand immediately lunged forward in a desperate attempt to catch the fruit, but it was too late. I got a fingertip on it, but my effort wasn’t enough. Down, down, down it went, hitting the parking lot with what sounded like a combination between a hollow thud and a wet splat. (What was most shocking, was how fast the juice flowed from that split watermelon. What you see above happened in just the 15 seconds it took me to put the rest of my groceries in my car.)

After I composed myself, I considered my options. I could scoop up the remnants and toss them in the trash, or I could gather the broken watermelon and try to salvage it to enjoy later. Seeing no major dirt and grime on the red flesh, I opted for the gathering and salvaging option. I also decided to snap a quick photo of the crime scene because I knew this would be a story worth telling.

UP NEXT: The People’s Choice voting in our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest begins!

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WOULD YOU STAY IN A WATERMELON-SHAPED HOTEL?

August 12th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

I’m a sports fan, but I have to admit that I’m glad the World Cup is over. It’s not that I don’t like soccer, it’s just that…okay, I don’t like soccer. There, I said it. Sue me. I’m actually a huge baseball fan, and I look forward to the summer months because all the other sports – football, basketball and hockey – are out of season, which allows me to focus all of my attention on America’s Pastime.

I’m not sure if the folks who work in the hospitality business down there in Brazil are happy that the World Cup is over. They saw a nice increase in business during the June and July soccer tournament, but they’re finally able to relax now that it’s done.

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One hotel in particular in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that got its share of World Cup visitors is the Hotel Unique. Yes, that’s actually the hotel’s name. What makes the 95-room hotel so unique? It’s shaped like a giant watermelon!

The $400-per-night hotel was actually sold out from mid-June through mid-July during the World Cup, which is a little surprising, because $400 per night isn’t exactly affordable accommodations. According to a New York Times article, the hotel is known locally as “the ‘Watermelon’ for its striking crescent shape. Hotel Unique tries, and mostly succeeds, to be a combination of quirky and luxurious.”

The funny thing is, the hotel’s architect never really intended for the building to look like a watermelon wedge. He actually designed it to look like the hull of a ship, complete with little porthole windows. What he didn’t realize was that the hotel’s shape and green and red hues evoked thoughts of, you guessed it, watermelon. And those round, porthole-shaped windows? Those are the seeds.

As you can see below, the rooms aren’t all that spacious, but you can’t beat that view from the watermelon seed window!

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UP NEXT: I dropped my watermelon!!!

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RECIPE: WATERMELON PANCAKE SANDWICHES

August 8th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picI love making pancakes almost as much I love eating them. It’s pretty much a regular Sunday morning ritual in our house, and I’m the one happily wielding the spatula.

About 90 percent of the time, they’re the regular hotcakes drenched in butter and syrup, but every now and then, I’ll mix it up and throw some chocolate chips, blueberries or cinnamon into the batter. (One time, I was feeling adventurous and added all three ingredients. I don’t recommend it.)

I’ve even been known to add watermelon to our pancake breakfasts. I’ve offered pictures and recipes of those meals in the past (here and here), and I’m happy to share my most recent watermelon-meets-pancake creation with you today.

These Watermelon Pancake Sandwiches are pretty darn tasty. They can also be eaten just like a sandwich (no fork!), which means kids will love them, too. And here’s the real kicker: August is National Sandwich Month, which makes these “sandwiches” a perfect way to celebrate!

WATERMELON PANCAKE SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS

Maple syrup
8 silver dollar-sized (3-4”) pancakes
4 slices seedless watermelon, the same size as the pancakes

INSTRUCTIONS

Spread syrup over one side of each pancake. Place a slice of watermelon on the syrup-brushed side of four of the pancakes. Top the watermelon with the other four pancakes, syrup side down. Serve immediately.

For more tasty ways to use watermelon, check out the “Recipes” page of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

UP NEXT: A hotel that looks like a watermelon?

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AUGUST POLL: IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU ENJOY WATERMELON?

August 5th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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I’ve talked in the past about the many ways to enjoy watermelon, beyond the usual wedges and chunks. Don’t get me wrong: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with chomping on an ice-cold watermelon wedge on a hot summer day, but I guarantee that you’ll love watermelon even more once you expand your horizons to include things like adding watermelon to a salad or using watermelon in beverages.

A friend recently emailed me a link to a story about “20 ways to use watermelon.” I was happy when I realized that I had already tried many of the methods suggested in the article. Below are a few highlights from the piece. I’ve also included the methods below (and a few others) in this month’s blog poll. Check it out on the right, and feel free to choose as many answers that apply to you!

1. ICE CUBES – Basically, you freeze watermelon cubes and add them to your drinks. They keep your beverages cold AND provide a tasty snack when you’re done sipping!

2. POPSICLE – Cut a small watermelon wedge, shove a popsicle stick in the bottom, and stick it in the freezer. Boom – you’ve got a watermelon popsicle.

3. SALSA – Add some diced watermelon to any salsa (from a jar or one you make yourself) to add a touch of sweetness to your spicy dish.

4. GRILLED CHEESE – Next time you’ve got some bread and cheese, add a thin slice of watermelon, and grill that baby to create a delicious lunch.

5. PICKLED RINDS – I’ve talked about this in the past. Don’t throw that rind away…pickle it!

6. ROASTED SEEDS – This is another part of the watermelon that often gets tossed out. If you’ve got a watermelon with seeds, keep ‘em and roast ‘em up!

UP NEXT: A watermelon sandwich for breakfast?

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AUGUST PRIZE: WHAT BEVERAGE WOULD YOU PUT IN YOUR WATERMELON KEG?

August 1st, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picIt’s a not-so-well-known fact that early explorers used hollowed-out watermelons as canteens to hold water while they were off doing explorer stuff. Considering that watermelons are 92 percent water, using an empty watermelon to store some tasty beverages seems like a perfectly reasonable idea.

These days, you can transform your own watermelon into a beverage dispenser with the help of this month’s prize – the watermelon keg kit ($22.99 on Amazon). The kit includes a faucet with a handle, a shank (I’m not 100 percent sure what that is, but it sounds important), a coring tool and installation instructions. Bonus: The kit can also be used with pumpkins for fall celebrations.

According to the product’s description, all you need to do is “follow the fool-proof instructions and in no time flat you’ll have a watermelon cocktail keg that will be the envy of all your guests. It’s fun. It’s unique. It’s a surefire hit at any fun time event!”

What beverage you fill your watermelon keg with is up to you. Maybe you’ll be tempted to fill it with beer (I know I would), but you might also choose to make a watermelon-based drink from any of the recipes found on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website. After my wife steered me away from filling it with beer, I’d probably opt for a simple yet refreshing drink like watermelon agua fresca.

Leave a comment below with what YOU’D fill your watermelon keg with if you won this prize. I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog this month as the winner. Cheers!

UP NEXT: 20 ways to enjoy watermelon

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RECIPE: WATERMELON S’MORES

July 30th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picWhat’s better than s’mores? How ‘bout s’mores made with watermelon? Yes, you read that correctly. S’mores…made with watermelon.

Our three-year-old loves s’mores. It’s her favorite part of any camping trip and, to be honest, it’s probably my favorite part, too. This past weekend, in lieu of trekking out into the wilderness and spending an hour trying to get the campfire lit, I whipped up this recipe for watermelon s’mores. (That’s them on the right.)

To bring the experience home even more, I pitched the camping tent in our living room and built a pretend fire next to the coffee table. No TV, no smartphones, no laptops. Just a little living room camping with watermelon s’mores and silly, scary campfire stories. By the time it was over, it was the most fun we’d had in a long time. And, yes, she slept in the tent that night and was none too happy when we had to take it down the following afternoon.

WATERMELON S’MORES

INGREDIENTS

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup melted dark chocolate chips

4 2 x 4 x 1-inch-thick rectangles of seedless watermelon

1 cup mini marshmallows

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the center of 4 plates. Drizzle 1/3 of the dark chocolate over the crumbs.
  1. Place a watermelon rectangle over the crumbs and chocolate on each plate. Drizzle 1/3 of the dark chocolate over the watermelon.
  1. Sprinkle the marshmallows over the watermelon and drizzle the remaining chocolate over the marshmallows.

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Don’t forget to enter your best watermelon carving in our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest! The deadline for entries is August 4. There are $2,000 in prizes and the first 25 entrants will receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board. Check out the contest kickoff blog entry or official contest web page for categories, entry requirements and more details.

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TSAMMA WATERMELON JUICE HAS ARRIVED!

July 28th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

picI’m a juice fan. Apple juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, you name it. As a watermelon lover, however, I’m a little frustrated by the lack of watermelon juices on the market. Oh sure, you’ll find watermelon-flavored beverages out there, but many of them only taste like watermelon, and are loaded with all sorts of other things.

So when I heard about a new product called Tsamma watermelon juice, I got excited. And when I read more about the product, I got even more excited.

Tsamma watermelon juice is 100 percent juice and has no added sugar. It’s made with 95 percent watermelon juice, and uses over a pound of fresh watermelon to make each 8-ounce serving!

The juice is made by Frey Farms, which is one of the largest watermelon shippers in the United States. I recently chatted with Sarah Frey-Talley (who founded Frey Farms in 1994 at the age of 17!), and asked her a few questions about the new juice and what it’s like to work side-by-side with her family.

Sarah, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk with me! Since this is an interview about watermelon, I have to ask: Are you a chunks or wedges kind of person?

That’s not really a fair question! I have millions of watermelons available to me throughout the year so I’m a bust-it-open-and-eat-the-heart-in-the-field kind of girl. However, when I slice them up at home I like the presentation of the wedge better.

You founded Frey Farms in 1994 when you were just 17! What motivated you to do something so ambitious at such a young age?

When I was a child, I would accompany my mother on a small melon delivery route. My job was to walk into the store make the sale, unload the melons and collect the cash.  I loved it so much that I decided to make a career out of it. I’m still doing what I enjoyed most as a child. That’s my definition of success.

Frey Farms is actually a family business. You work alongside your brothers, and together you make it all happen. Is working with family challenging at all, or does it make it more rewarding?

Both! We all do what suits our strengths best. Working with family is definitely one way to stay in touch. :)

There are so many different juices in stores – apple juice, orange juice, grape juice – what’s the inspiration behind a watermelon juice?

Watermelon juice is the most refreshing and hydrating juice on the market!  The inspiration for Tsamma can be directly attributed to the ingredients panels on most juices and sports drinks. Ugh! I’m just a melon farmer but even most doctors can’t pronounce half of the ingredients used in most sport drinks.

The purpose of Tsamma juice is to hydrate, replenish and recover. The bonus is that it tastes amazing! It delivers key vitamins and minerals to the body, but it’s very light and refreshing. Most premium juices are very thick and you tend to want to sip them, but not Tsamma. You actually drink this juice!

In case anyone is wondering, the name of the juice is pronounced “sah-mah,” but how did the juice get its name?

We named our drink Tsamma to pay homage to the ancient ancestor of all modern watermelon varieties. The Tsamma melon grows wild in the Kalahari Desert and is still used as a source of hydration.

I’m sure our readers would love to buy some Tsamma watermelon juice. Where can they find it?

It’s available coast-to-coast in many retailers, including Whole Foods in the Midwest, Hannaford Bros in the northeast, The Fresh Market nationally and Dollar General Market stores.

You can find it in Michigan retailers such as Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, Neiman’s Family Market, Foster’s Market, Harding’s Market, Glen’s, Shop-N-Save Food Centers, University Foods, VG’s Food Center, and Hollywood Super Market. Tsamma is also coming soon to select Walmart stores in Florida and the Midwest!

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WEEK FOUR WATERMELON PRIZE: A WATERMELON NAPKIN AND PLATE HOLDER!

July 25th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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In my opinion, I’ve saved the best weekly National Watermelon Prize for last. It’s the handmade wooden plate and napkin holder set you see above. Why is it the best prize? That’s a good question.

First, it’s just plain fun and cool-looking. If you’re at an event that requires paper or plastic plates and paper napkins, there’s a good chance that something that looks like this prize will be a big hit. There’s also a good chance that watermelon is being served, and any time you can match your decorations to the menu, you know you’re doing something right.

It’s also useful. We’ve all been to barbeques and picnics where the slightest gust of wind sends the stack of plates and napkins flying off the table and through the yard. That’s not fun for anyone but the family dog, who might like to chase the napkins as they flutter onto the neighbor’s lawn.

Leave a comment below if you’d like this conversation starter at your next backyard party. I’ll choose one comment at random to win it!

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Don’t forget to enter your best watermelon carving in our 2014 Watermelon Carving Contest! The deadline for entries is August 4. There are $2,000 in prizes and the first 25 entrants will receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board. Check out the contest kickoff blog entry or official contest web page for categories, entry requirements and more details.

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THIRSTY? IT’S NATIONAL DRINK WATERMELON DAY!

July 24th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

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Last week, I wrote about July 24 and how the National Climactic Data Center has declared it the hottest day of the year. Will there be hotter days in August in your area? Maybe, but the temperature nationwide (on average) is higher today than any other day of the year.

With that heat wave in mind, the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) has declared today “National Drink Watermelon Day.”

The NWPB is working with several bloggers to help spread the word and some recipes for how you can drink your watermelon. Here are just a few of the highlights:

picHealthy Slow Cooking – Watermelon Lemon-Balm Mint Cooler

Run Eat Repeat – Watermelon Sangria

The Fit Fork – Watermelon Ginger Limeade (right)

Family Spice – How to Make Watermelon Juice

Chocolate Moosey – Watermelon Yogurt Pops (below)

Mother Would Know – Watermelon Agua Fresca

Wholesome Mommy – Refreshing Watermelon and Green Tea Ice Pops

Elizabeth Somer blog – Watermelon Zapper

If you’re thirsty (today or any other warm day this summer), feel free to check out any of the blogger recipes. You can also stay hydrated with some of the drink recipes on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website. Cheers!

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