SECOND SLICE: THE PERFECT GIFT

December 4th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The following was posted previously here on What About Watermelon, but it’s good advice for this time of the year, so I’ve decided to post it again. Enjoy!

MARY L. FROM TOPEKA, KANSAS ASKS: Hi Watermelon Guy! My mother LOVES watermelon stuff and since you’re a watermelon lover too I wanted to ask you… what’s a good watermelon gift for the watermelon lover who has everything?

 

pic2Great question. I especially like it because it forces me to go online and shop for all sorts of watermelon-related stuff in search of the perfect watermelon gift. When it comes to gifts for the watermelon lover who has everything (actually, this advice applies to fans of any type of thing), my best advice is to buy consumable gifts. That way, if it’s something they might already have, they’ll eventually need more of it and your gift is guaranteed to come in handy.

Some good consumable watermelon gifts include things like watermelon jam, pickled watermelon rinds (an acquired taste), or watermelon skin creams. If you want to go all out, you might consider putting together a gift basket chock full of consumable watermelon gifts (you can even throw in some assorted watermelon-flavored candies).

One gift that I think any watermelon lover would appreciate (and chances are they don’t have already) is a watermelon growing kit like the one pictured above. You can build your own kit by purchasing pots and soil and seeds or buy a kit with all the stuff you need for about $10 on Amazon.com.

If you’re looking for a watermelon gift with a little more staying power, I’d suggest a trip to Etsy.com. Just search for watermelon stuff and you’ll find all sorts of unique handmade crafts and jewelry. Let me know how your shopping adventures turn out!

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GIFTS FOR THE WATERMELON LOVER: WATERMELON FLASH DRIVE

December 2nd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

pic2I may have mentioned it before, but I firmly believe that no other holiday on the calendar is as well-suited for watermelon than Christmas. Allow me to explain. In addition to the opportunity to engage in festive activities like dancing with a watermelon on Christmas Eve, the holiday’s signature colors are red, green and white. What fruit shares those same colors? That’s right, watermelon.

With that undeniable connection in mind, I’ll be featuring four “Gifts for the Watermelon Lover” here on the blog throughout the month of December. The gifts will be featured each Monday and will be given away to one commenter chosen at random.

The first gift is something I’ve featured on the blog in the past, but I’ve decided to bring it back because it was a pretty popular offering and, quite frankly, it’s pretty awesome. It’s a USB flash drive shaped like a slice of juicy watermelon (that’s it above). The slice of digital deliciousness includes 8 gigabytes of memory, which is enough to store 2,000 songs, 7,000 photos or 8 hours of video.

That’s a lot of storage space. Probably more than enough to back up all of your most important files and images. If you ask me, the fact that you can back those files up into a single slice of watermelon is nothing short of a technological miracle.

Leave a comment below to be entered to win this prize (you can also buy it here). I’ll choose the winner next week, which means it should arrive in plenty of time to be wrapped up and given to the watermelon lover on your holiday gift list. If that watermelon lover is you, go ahead and wrap it up anyway!

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ANIMALS EATING WATERMELON: A GUINEA PIG, A MAN, AND AN ITTY BITTY TURTLE

November 26th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

This will be my last blog entry before Thanksgiving, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy holiday. Hopefully, you’re spending it with good friends and family (or at least good food). In honor of the number one eating holiday, I’ve assembled a buffet of videos for today’s entry that feature animals chowing down on watermelon.

I’ve featured guinea pigs eating watermelon here in the past in my semimonthly “Animals Eating Watermelon” series, but I couldn’t resist giving this little guy some attention, too. Unlike many of the animals we’ve seen in the past, he skips the red part of the watermelon and chomps on the rind instead. Saving the best part for last, I guess. Sort of like I do with cupcakes.

The next “Animal Eating Watermelon” video is a first here on the blog. It’s a video of a man eating watermelon. There’s no exciting conclusion or plot twist at the end. Just eight full minutes of an ordinary man eating a watermelon. It’s proof that you really can find a video of just about anything on YouTube. (If you’re really curious, this guy has a whole series of videos of himself eating things, including avocados, cherry tomatoes and corn on the cob.)

We’ll end today’s entry with something a little cuter (sorry, guy-who-likes-to-record-himself-eating-things). It’s a baby tortoise, and he really goes to town on a chunk of watermelon. Seriously, how cute is this guy?! Of course, he’s cute now, when he’s a baby. That thing will probably live to be 100 years old. He won’t be nearly as adorable in the year 2113, but he’ll be flying around with a little turtle jetpack by then, so it doesn’t really matter.

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THANKSGIVING RECIPE: WATERMELON CHECKERS!

November 25th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

For some, the question of when to arrive for Thanksgiving dinner is a tricky one. Arrive too late, and you have to rush through the greetings before eating, or worse yet, you show up while everyone is eating. (Save me a drumstick!)

You might think the safe bet is to get there early, but that tactic has its pitfalls, too. An early arrival means several hours of forced interaction with your Uncle Sal or getting recruited to help out in the kitchen during the always-crazy last few hours before the big meal. Not that either of those things is necessarily bad, but they’re not always good, either.

If you do show up a little early, an appetizer like Watermelon Checkers might help you pass the time. I created the edible game below based on a recipe on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website. The recipe called for “checkers” made from watermelon and cheese, but I made the game a little sweeter by using chocolate discs. Who’s up for a game?

Watermelon Checkers

pic2INGREDIENTS

Seedless watermelon

Your favorite cheese

DIRECTIONS

Cut 1/2-inch-thick square shapes of equal size from watermelon and your favorite cheese. Arrange as a checkerboard on a serving tray. For the checkers, you can cut small circles of the watermelon and cheese – or add a sweet element to this appetizer game by using different-colored chocolate discs. Enjoy!

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HOW TO CREATE A WATERMELON SMOOTHIE WITH A DRILL AND A COAT HANGER

November 20th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for tips and tricks designed to make your life a little easier. On the Internet, those tricks have taken the form of “life hack” videos. The thinking behind the videos: Just as you can hack a computer to make it do whatever you’d like it to do, you can also “hack” everyday objects to make them more user-friendly. (For a few examples, check out this video featuring food-related life hacks. The first one – opening jars using duct tape – is pretty amazing.)

During a particularly productive Saturday afternoon, I stumbled upon the life hack video below which shows you how to turn a watermelon into a watermelon smoothie using only a wire coat hanger and a drill. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to give this a try. Will I add a little “adult beverage” to make the hack even better? Probably, but only after I’ve returned the drill to the safety of my garage.

 

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THE RISE OF THE MINI WATERMELON

November 18th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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As it relates to food, what’s the worst day of the year? For me, it isn’t the day after Halloween (when I wake up with a sugar hangover after raiding my daughter’s candy supply the night before) or the day after an all-day pig out session on Thanksgiving. It’s the day the bin of watermelons disappears from the grocery store.

The exact timing of that day varies based on your location. In my neck of the woods, it usually arrives in late September. Shortly thereafter, the space where the bin of beautiful green melons once sat becomes occupied by a bin of orange pumpkins. They’re fun to carve and their seeds are tasty, but I’ll take the bin of watermelons any day of the week.

When the bin disappears, your watermelon options are to A) raid the pre-sliced and chunked section (in my grocery store, it’s over by the bagged lettuce) or B) ask your produce manager if he’s got an uncut watermelon in the back that he’s willing to sell for whatever the current per-pound rate is.

Of course, there’s also a third option – the mini watermelon. The mini watermelon (or “personal” watermelon) is often overlooked because it hides in the produce aisle on a display amongst many other softball-sized fruits. But I’m here to tell you one important thing: Don’t overlook this pint-sized gem!

Here are some things you should know about the little green ball of goodness:

– Mini watermelons are the fastest-growing segment of the watermelon market.

– Mini watermelons are usually seedless and have a thinner rind, which means you get more edible flesh per pound.

– Mini watermelons have a uniform flavor throughout the fruit.

– Mini watermelons are easy to transport and you’re more likely to eat the entire thing, which means less waste.

So there you have it – four very good reasons to give mini watermelons a try during your next trip to the grocery store. Actually, I can think of another reason: Mini watermelons are freakin’ adorable! Seriously, every time I buy one, I almost don’t want to cut it up because it’s so darn cute. But then I do slice it up and devour it, and I remember just how good that cuteness tastes.

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THANKSGIVING RECIPE: WATERMELON CRANBERRY SAUCE

November 15th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picWhen I was younger, cranberry sauce was one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. That’s probably because my family always had the cranberry sauce that comes in a can (it tasted sugary sweet, which is something every kid loves). You know, the cranberry sauce that you sort of plop out onto a plate? It also had the lines in it from the can, which made it really easy to cut and serve.

Now that I’m older, my tastes have evolved, so I’m not as big a fan of cranberry sauce as I used to be. A few years ago, my wife made some homemade cranberry sauce and I have to admit, it was pretty darn good! It didn’t taste like a slab of super sweet jelly (like the canned stuff), and it once again opened my eyes to the potential of cranberry sauce as a Thanksgiving menu item.

This week’s recipe takes that traditional dish to a new level by adding watermelon. Feel free to check out the recipe below. The National Watermelon Promotion Board has even created a “how-to” video, which I’ve also included. If it looks easy to make, that’s because it is!

 Watermelon Cranberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

4 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
½ cup maple syrup
Dash cinnamon
2 cups minced watermelon

DIRECTIONS

Heat cranberries, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and zest in a 3-quart saucepan over medium low heat until it simmers. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the maple syrup and cinnamon to the pan. Simmer another few minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Stir in watermelon and serve warm or chill and serve cold. Makes about 4 cups.

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WHICH SESAME STREET CHARACTER SHOULD WATERMELON USE AS ITS SPOKESPUPPET?

November 13th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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If you gave a child the choice between an apple and a cookie, which one do you think she’d choose? In most cases, the child would choose the cookie (unfortunately, most adults would, too). But if you put a sticker on the apple that featured the adorable Sesame Street character Elmo, guess what happens? The number of kids who choose the apple more than doubles.

Those encouraging results were discovered by researchers at Cornell University. Also encouraging is the recent news that the folks at Sesame Street have teamed up with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the Partnership for a Healthier America to allow PMA members to use Sesame Street characters on its products and advertising for FREE!

That’s fantastic news for fruit and veggie producers – who typically don’t have very large promotional budgets – because the licensing to use characters like Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Bert & Ernie is often a marketing luxury they can’t afford. It’s also good news for the National Watermelon Promotion Board, because they’re a member of the PMA.

“As any parent will tell you, it’s not always easy to convince kids to make healthy eating decisions, but this offer from Sesame Street will definitely help,” said National Watermelon Promotion Board Marketing Director Gordon Hunt. “It won’t be easy, but with a little creativity and time, I think we can turn the produce aisle into one of the most popular grocery shopping stops for kids.”

Even though the agreement won’t begin until the middle of next year, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to capitalize on this opportunity. Of course, the big question for the National Watermelon Promotion Board isn’t whether or not to take advantage of Sesame Street’s offer (they’re pretty sure they will), but which furry character to use as a spokespuppet for watermelon.

They haven’t made any decisions yet, but they want to know what you think. Check out the poll on the right to weigh in on the issue, and leave a comment below with any additional thoughts you might have about this good news.

I watched the show often as a child, so when it comes to Sesame Street characters, I have a few personal favorites. I won’t tell you who my favorite character is because I don’t want to influence the poll, but I’ll give you a hint: He’s blue and he doesn’t have a sweet tooth.

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SECOND SLICE: WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I MICROWAVED AN ENTIRE WATERMELON?

November 12th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The following was posted previously here on What About Watermelon, but my nephew asked me a similar question last week, so I’ve decided to post this wise advice once again. Enjoy!

ALEX OF ANNAPOLIS, MD, ASKS: My friends and I were wondering what would happen if you microwaved a whole watermelon. Any ideas?

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Interesting question, Alex. I’m assuming you’re microwaving a watermelon purely for scientific reasons, because I can’t really think of any other reason to microwave a whole watermelon. Whatever your reasons are, I’m going to say DO NOT PUT A WATERMELON IN THE MICROWAVE. It’s not a good idea and it’s a waste of a perfectly good watermelon.

That said, let’s start with some basics about how microwaves work. The process of heating food in a microwave is actually caused by a reaction between the water molecules in the food item and the microwaves passing through it. The microwaves cause the water molecules to spin and give off heat energy. During this spinning process, the water molecules are rubbing against other water molecules, creating a chain reaction and causing things to heat up very quickly.

So you can imagine what might happen to something like a watermelon, which is 92 percent water by weight, and whose watery interior is effectively sealed off by a thick rind. You’re probably imagining lots of pressure building inside as the watermelon heats up, and something disastrous happening when the watermelon reaches its breaking point, right?

I scoured the Internet for answers and found a video that shows what happens when you microwave a sliced watermelon (nothing exciting), but no videos or testimonies of whole-watermelon nuking. Similar videos show the results of microwaving watermelon-like foods such as tomatoes (nothing), bananas (burned and charred but no explosion) and eggs (boom!).

You’re going to be disappointed with my final answer, Alex, but the truth is, I’m not really sure what would happen if you put a whole watermelon in a microwave. I thought about testing it for myself, but good sense and my love of watermelon prevented me from taking such drastic action. (UPDATE: Since this entry was originally posted, two videos have been posted online showing what happens when you microwave a whole watermelon. One video is explosive and the other is not so explosive.)

My advice again is this: DO NOT PUT A WATERMELON IN THE MICROWAVE. If you have a watermelon and you really want to do something crazy with it, I’d suggest using it to make some sweet and sour watermelon chicken.

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THANKSGIVING RECIPE: FETA-STUFFED WATERMELON CUBES

November 8th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

As I mentioned last week, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, mainly because of the smorgasbord of food that awaits and the one-day license to overindulge. The hard part, for me, is steering clear of the buffet of appetizers that my family creates for pre-dinner snacking.

Oh sure, I could adopt a “just one taste of each appetizer” approach (which I’ve tried in the past), but when there are eight to 10 appetizers, those nibbles can add up pretty quickly. The result is a spoiled appetite come dinnertime. This year, I’ll limit myself to just three pre-turkey morsels. If today’s recipe were on the appetizer menu, I’d probably choose three of these cubes and skip everything else!

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Feta-Stuffed Watermelon Cubes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ¼ pounds watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1-inch blocks
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta
  • 2 large fresh basil leaves, very thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

Using a small melon baller, scoop out the top of each watermelon block. Divide feta among melon hollows. Top each block with basil.

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