HOW TO CARVE: A WATERMELONOPHANT

July 15th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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I didn’t used to be a fan of animated movies, but ever since I became a father three years ago, I’ve learned to appreciate the joys of cartoon filmmaking. One of those movies is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a movie about an inventor whose newest creation turns rain into food. The movie was a success, which is why a sequel – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – will be released on September 27.

One of the film’s characters is a watermelon elephant creation known as a Watermelophant. To help promote the movie and the good cause it supports (the movie’s produce partners are helping to solve hunger by donating thousands of pounds of fresh produce to families and children in need), this year’s Watermelon Carving Contest includes a “Best Watermelophant” category.

Turns out, carving a Watermelophant isn’t as tricky as you might think. I recently gave it a shot and I’m happy to share the step-by-step experience with the photos below.

carvestart

Like any carving, start with one clean, relatively blemish-free watermelon. The key part of that formula is the clean watermelon. Before cutting into any watermelon, you should wash it thoroughly in the sink (or wipe it off if it doesn’t fit in the sink).

carvemouth

The only cut you have to make in your Watermelophant is the mouth. As you can see in the image at the top of this entry and the image above, the cut looks simple, but the angles make it a little trickier than you might think. Take your time, and you should be okay!

carvetail

You have a couple options when it comes to cutting the Watermelophant’s trunk and ears. You can cut them from watermelon rind or you can create them using other materials. If you’re using rind, you’ll need a second watermelon. As you can see above, I carved the trunk of my Watermelophant from rind.

carvefinish

After you attached the trunk, you’ll need to attach the ears and eyes. For the ears, I used construction paper. If you have large leaves, those are even better. The eyes, placed relatively close together just above the trunk, are a pair of blueberries affixed with toothpicks.

Finally, your Watermelophant needs teeth. If you have real watermelon seeds (feel free to buy a packet of seeds if you need to), you can use those. I couldn’t find real seeds, so I cut my seeds from black construction paper. I think that method works even better than real seeds, because paper sticks easily to the wet watermelon flesh, and I’m not sure if I would have had the same success with the real thing.

And there you have it — a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Watermelophant!

 

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HOW ARE THE WATERMELON CARVINGS COMING?

July 12th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

pic2With three weeks left in this year’s Watermelon Carving Contest, I thought I’d check in to see how everyone’s carvings are shaping up. We’ve received plenty of great submissions so far, but we haven’t received “hundreds and hundreds” of entries, so if you’re sitting out because you think the competition is too intense, I’d definitely suggest rethinking that stance. (I’d also remind you that the first 25 entries AUTOMATICALLY receive a Dexas Watermelon cutting board – a $20 value!)

To help inspire you, I’ve gathered four of my own carvings below. It should be noted that I created most of these during my first year of watermelon carving (with the exception of the basket), which means you don’t need a lot of experience to create halfway decent carvings capable of winning some of our carving contest prizes.

For more details about the contest, including specific rules and entry details, check out the 2013 Watermelon Carving Contest webpage. And for more inspiration and ideas for carvings, check out the “Carvings” page of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

The watermelon T-Rex was the third carving I ever created, and one of my favorites. As you can see, it’s a relatively simple creation. Definitely a good one for first-time carvers.

carve1

I created this shark soon after the T-Rex (I guess I like carving mean-looking animals with sharp teeth). Like the T-Rex, this one was also a simple carving. If you’re considering something like this for your carving contest entry, I suggest adding some decoration around the shark (blue Jell-O, perhaps?) to make it look like the shark is coming out of the water instead of coming out of your countertop.

carve2

The Watermelon Carving Contest includes a “Best Watermelon Basket” category, and this basket would make a worthy entry. I made this three years ago (it was my very first watermelon carving) and it’s probably a little too simple to be a strong contender, but it’s a nice first attempt.

carve3

This watermelon mouth was one of the more bizarre carvings I created last summer. This would make a nice entry in the “Funniest Carving” category of the contest. If I were entering this in that category, I’d probably add a few extra touches of humor. Maybe some eyes, ears or a wig. Or maybe a tongue carved out of the red flesh inside the watermelon.

carve4

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WEEK TWO PRIZE: THE WATERMELON iPHONE CASE

July 10th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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Throughout history, there have been certain inventions that we, as humans, couldn’t imagine living without. The wheel, the television, and the bacon cheeseburger are three must-haves on my list.

Over the past few years, however, I’ve added the smartphone to my list of life-changing accessories. I can’t imagine what life was like before the smartphone. Actually, I’ll tell you what it was like. I had a cellphone that only made phone calls and took pictures that were so bad, I might as well have just pulled out a pencil and paper and sketched the image myself.

Now, I have a smartphone. I can use it to post watermelon blog entries. I can use it to take high quality pictures (and video!) of my two-year-old singing Old MacDonald. I can use it to check baseball scores. I can use it to look up dinner recipes. I can use it as a GPS in my car to help me get from point A to point B without stopping to ask for directions. Oh, and I can also use it to make phone calls, but why would I when texting is so much easier?

To protect my life-changing smartphone, I definitely wouldn’t mind having this week’s prize: The watermelon iPhone case.

The plastic case fits the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, and I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog this month to win it. If you win and you don’t have a smartphone, we’ll figure out a suitable alternative … although you might consider this a good excuse to get a smartphone. Seriously, your life will never be the same.

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SECOND SLICE: WATERMELON CARVING TIPS

July 8th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picSome of you might have already started your watermelon carving for this year’s Watermelon Carving Contest. Others might still be trying to figure out which carving to create.

Either way, there’s still plenty of time left to submit your entry before the August 4 deadline for your shot at the $500 grand prize or one of the first, second and third place prizes in each category. And don’t forget, the first 25 entrants automatically receive a Dexas watermelon cutting board! (That’s mine under the hippo on the right.)

To help with the carving process, I’ve dusted off some tips originally posted here on the blog during last year’s contest.

TIP #1: USE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB

Over the course of carving various watermelon animals, I’ve learned that one knife will not get the job done, especially on the more intricate creations. In many cases, even two knives aren’t enough. For most of my carvings, I’ve needed three knives: one long carving knife for the big cuts, one medium-sized steak knife for other tasks, and one small paring knife (or smaller if you’ve got one) for the detail work. Arm yourself with all three tools, and you’re well on your way to creating a winning carving in this year’s contest!

TIP #2: BE PATIENT!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while carving each of those designs, it’s the importance of being patient and taking your time. Carving a watermelon requires a little extra care and precision. It’s not like carving a pumpkin, which has a more rigid and forgiving surface. Not to mention that my watermelon carvings were much more intricate than any pumpkin carving I’d ever done (most of which were just three triangles and a jagged mouth).

So take your time with your watermelon carving and think about each step and each cut before you make it. A good watermelon carving might take you an hour or two to create, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

Hopefully these tips help you in your watermelon carving process. Honestly though, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process. Good luck with the watermelon carvings, and remember: Even if you’ve never carved a watermelon, you should still enter this year’s carving contest. Some of the best carvings in last year’s contest were from first-time carvers!

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THE GREAT VALUE OF WATERMELON

July 5th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picI’m a big fan of watermelon for two main reasons: It’s delicious and it’s affordable. While the deliciousness of watermelon is a subjective opinion and can’t be measured, its affordability is something that definitely can be measured.

An article in the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Magazine shed some light on which fruits and vegetables pack the most punch for your pennies.

According to the article: “In order to provide greater clarity on the true cost per serving for fruits and vegetables, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) commissioned the Perishables Group to conduct a study using its national supermarket fresh foods database. The goal: determine the lowest average cost at any given time during the year for a consumer to meet dietary recommendations by purchasing nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day.”

And so, the Perishables Group spent weeks upon weeks analyzing mountains of grocery store data. Turns out, watermelon is the least expensive fruit per serving in the produce aisle!

Here’s the kicker: Not only is watermelon the most affordable fruit, it also provides a pretty high yield per fruit. Below is a graphic created by the National Watermelon Promotion Board that shows off just how much deliciousness a single watermelon offers. Pretty impressive, don’t you think?

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WEEK ONE PRIZE: THE DEXAS WATERMELON CUTTING BOARD AND WATERMELON KNIFE

July 3rd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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One thing I’ve learned in my relatively short career as a watermelon carver is that you can’t carve a watermelon without a good knife and cutting board. With the 2013 Watermelon Carving Contest just underway, I thought a cutting board and watermelon knife would be a good choice for the first of four weekly prizes given away here on the blog throughout National Watermelon Month.

The set is from the good folks at Dexas, who make all sorts of bright and colorful kitchen accessories. We’ve given away the Dexas cutting board and knife in the past, but this board and knife are new-and-improved. The board is slightly smaller than the previous version, which makes it nice for people (like me) with limited countertop space.

The knife is also different. While the old watermelon knife had a green handle and a red blade, this new model takes the theme a step further with a very cool watermelon color scheme on the blade.

The team at Dexas sent me the new board and knife to test in The Watermelon Guy kitchen and it works fantastically. Even if you’re not carving something fancy for this year’s contest, this set will come in handy for everyday watermelon slicing and dicing.

I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog this month to receive this prize. Good luck!

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HAPPY NATIONAL WATERMELON MONTH!

July 1st, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picWait, July is here already? Where did April, May and June go? Not that I’m complaining. July is my favorite month, mainly because it’s the month of my birthday, the weather is great, and it’s when baseball season is in full swing. Oh, and it’s also National Watermelon Month.

I’ve got a couple things planned this month to help you give watermelon the celebration it deserves. First, I’ll be giving away four weekly watermelon-related prizes. The gifts range from watermelon cutting boards (see this coming Wednesday’s entry) to a pair of watermelon shoes. I’ll choose the winners at random based on all the comments left on the blog this month, so be sure to comment often!

The second theme you’ll notice this month is about the 2013 Watermelon Carving Contest. For those who missed my entry last week, this year’s contest is searching for carvings in five categories:

Most Elegant Carving
Best Fruit Basket Carving
Funniest Carving
Best Animal Carving
Best Watermelophant

Carvings must be emailed to jslice@whataboutwatermelon.com before August 4 to be considered. (See the contest webpage for more details and important instructions.)

And if the fun of carving a watermelon isn’t enough of a reward for you, there are also some great prizes. Each category will feature a 1st prize ($150 Amazon.com gift card), 2nd prize ($100 Amazon.com gift card) and a 3rd ($50 Amazon.com gift card). When all the winners have been chosen in August, we’ll post them here on the blog and let the fans choose the “People’s Choice” winner, which will receive a $500 Amazon.com gift card!

As one final incentive, the first 25 entrants will automatically receive a bonus participation prize – the Dexas watermelon cutting board.

So there you have it – a National Watermelon Month celebration for the ages. The next four-and-a-half weeks are going to be a blast, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, they’ll also be over before you know it, so sit back, relax and enjoy the festivities!

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HOW TO CARVE: A WATERMELON TIKI MASK

June 30th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

Can I tell you how happy I am that the bin of full-sized watermelon has returned to my local grocery store? It’s been there for about two months, and the return of the watermelon bin means the return of watermelon carving.

I had a great time carving watermelons for entries on the blog last year and last month’s hippo was the perfect transition back into carving season. It was fun and light hearted, and it wasn’t all that difficult. Now it’s time for something a little more challenging – the watermelon tiki mask.

MATERIALS NEEDED

1 oblong seedless watermelon
Pencil or green dry erase marker
Melon baller
Paring and kitchen knives
Spoon
Channel knife
Toothpick

melon 1

Start by thoroughly washing and drying your watermelon. Get used to this step, because you’ll see it in every watermelon-carving entry this summer.

melon 2

Slice about ¼ inch off the bottom of the watermelon to provide a stable base. Then draw the tiki face using a dry erase marker. Next, cut out the eyes and the rough shape of the mouth (you’ll cut the teeth later) and scoop out some of the red flesh inside to create a good-sized cavity. You’ll also use a melon baller to scoop out the nostrils. Your small paring knife can be used to clean up any rough edges in the nostrils, eyes and mouth. Next, cut the individual teeth using the paring knife.

Melon 3

Finally, use a piece removed from the mouth to create a “bone” decoration for the top of the head and attach with a toothpick. After your watermelon rind bone is attached, your tiki mask is complete!

Melon 4

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THE 2013 WATERMELON CARVING CONTEST HAS ARRIVED (WITH PRIZES!)

June 28th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

pic2It’s no secret that I enjoy carving watermelon almost as much as I enjoy eating it, which is why I’m excited to announce the start of the National Watermelon Promotion Board’s Fourth Annual Watermelon Carving Contest!

Like last year’s contest, the prizes are pretty awesome. Each category will feature a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize. Prizes include $150 Amazon.com gift card for 1st place, $100 Amazon.com gift card for 2nd place, and $50 Amazon.com gift card for 3rd place in each category. When all the winners have been chosen, we’ll post them here on the blog and let the fans choose the “People’s Choice” winner, which will receive a $500 Amazon.com gift card!

Also, the first 25 entrants will automatically receive a bonus participation prize – the Dexas watermelon cutting board. That’s right, you get a prize just for entering!

Here’s how the contest works:

Carve a watermelon between now and August 4 and send a picture of the carving AND a picture of you posing with the carving to jslice@whataboutwatermelon.com. On August 4, a special panel of judges will choose three finalists in each of these five categories:

- Most Elegant Carving
- Best Fruit Basket Carving
- Funniest Carving
- Best Animal Carving
- Best Watermelophant

I know what you’re thinking: What’s a Watermelophant? A Watermelophant is one of the food animals co-starring in the upcoming movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (in theaters September 27). By partnering with Feeding America, the movie’s produce partners are helping to solve hunger by donating thousands of pounds of fresh produce to families and children in need.

I’ll show you how to carve a Watermelophant in a blog entry next month. In the meantime, feel free to check it out on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

So there you have it! For complete contest rules, check out the carving contest web page. And, of course, if you have any questions along the way, feel free to leave a comment on the blog or email me at jslice@whataboutwatermelon.com. Good luck!

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RECIPE: CREAMY WATERMELON SALAD

June 25th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’m not what you’d call a “salad guy” – unless that salad is covered in cheese, bacon and ranch dressing – but today’s recipe is one I couldn’t pass up. It’s more of a fruit salad than a regular salad, and the addition of a cream cheese, mayo and whipped cream “dressing” gives it a tangy yet sweet kick.

The original recipe called for half a cup of whipping cream, which you can whip into whipped cream yourself. That’s pretty easy to do, so feel free to give it a shot. But if you’d rather save some time, go ahead and buy pre-whipped whipped cream.

The end result of your efforts should look something like the photo below. That’s how mine looked, at least. As for the taste, it was great. The only change you might consider is skipping the celery (for those of you who aren’t celery fans). If you do drop the only green ingredient, I’d recommend adding raisins!

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CREAMY WATERMELON SALAD

INGREDIENTS

4 cups watermelon balls, chilled

4 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 cups whipped cream

1 1/4 cups diced celery

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup pecans

INSTRUCTIONS

Blend cream cheese with mayonnaise until fluffy. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Fold in celery and bell pepper. Place watermelon balls in dessert glasses and spoon dressing over top. Sprinkle with pecans. For a sweeter dish, add sugar to dressing to taste.

 

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