NOVEMBER PRIZE: WATERMELON RIND BARBECUE SAUCE

November 4th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picAs a watermelon fan, you can’t subscribe to the belief that certain foods should only be eaten during certain times of the year. If you did, you’d only eat watermelon during the summer, and I think we can all agree that that’s just plain silliness.

That same foodie philosophy applies to plenty of things besides watermelon. Pumpkin pie in the middle of summer? Don’t mind if I do! An ice cream cone while sledding in January? I might look silly, but I’ll give it a shot. (At least my ice cream won’t melt!) I’ve even been known to fire up my grill in December to cook up some burgers and hot dogs.

My adventurous attitude toward grilling in freezing temperatures is the inspiration behind this month’s prize – Watermelon Rind Barbecue Sauce. The sauce comes from TheWatermelonShop.com, which, if you’re a watermelon fan, should be in your bookmarks right now.  Here’s how the makers of the sauce – Old South – describe it on their website:

“Made from our famous Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind, this robust barbecue sauce is truly unique.  A bold blend of spices creates a rich sauce, perfect for marinating or grilling.  Once you have tasted our barbecue sauce, others simply will not do!”

I’ll choose one comment at random from all the comments left on the blog this month to receive this barbecue booster. Sure, you’ll receive it in December, but like I said earlier, that shouldn’t really matter, right? Even if you don’t feel like grilling in the snow, there are still plenty of ways you can incorporate this watermelon barbecue sauce into some recipes cooked indoors. If anyone has any ideas on how they’d use this sauce – indoors or outdoors – feel free to leave a comment!

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THANKSGIVING RECIPE: WATERMELON CHAMPAGNE SANGRIA ANYONE?

November 1st, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picThanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. It ranks number one on my list for a few reasons. The first is the fact that it brings my family together, which is always a good thing. I know for some families, that’s not always as pleasant as it sounds, but it is for mine.

But the main reason I like Turkey Day is because I love to eat, and no other day on the calendar celebrates food (and eating tons of it) quite like Thanksgiving does. It also helps that my mother-in-law will do 90 percent of the cooking, which means the only thing we’ll need to bring to her house is our appetites and my world-famous green bean casserole.

To help celebrate Thanksgiving and watermelon, I’ll be featuring several watermelon-themed recipes here on the blog this month, starting with today’s recipe for Watermelon Champagne Sangria. As the instructions on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website claim, it’s even good for brunch or a pre-dinner drink. And if you have one of those stereotypically dysfunctional families, a few of these beverages might make the day a little more bearable. Or they might make the day worse. Hard to say.

Watermelon Champagne Sangria

INGREDIENTS

2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 seedless orange, peeled and broken into sections
2 bananas, peeled and sliced just before making the sangria
1 cup seedless grapes, cut into halves
1 bottle dry champagne of your choice (use ginger ale for a nonalcoholic version)

INSTRUCTIONS

Toss the fruit together and divide among champagne glasses. Pour the champagne over and serve. Makes 6 drinks.

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JACK-O-MELON SAYS: “HAPPY HALLOWEEN!”

October 30th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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Yes, Halloween isn’t until tomorrow, but I’m posting this today because I’m not really sure when most people read these blog entries. (I could post it tomorrow, but you might read it on November 1, and there’s nothing worse than expired holiday greetings.)

Continuing a tradition I started a few years ago, I carved the “jack-o-melon” above and set it on my doorstep. He looked a bit alone, so I surrounded him with a few mini pumpkins to complete the display. (He looks a little frightened by the pumpkins, doesn’t he? Sort of like they’re ganging up on him like a hoard of mini-pumpkin zombies.)

After I carved my not-so-scary watermelon, I jumped online to learn more about Halloween. Here are a few of the more interesting facts I discovered:

1. Pumpkins have long been the standard when it comes to Halloween carvings, but it wasn’t always that way. Turnips, potatoes and beets were the original Jack-O-Lanterns, but immigrants from Europe used pumpkins when they arrived in the U.S. because they were larger and more readily available. (Can you imagine a carved beet?!)

2. Halloween is the second highest-grossing holiday of the year, behind Christmas.

3. More than 35 million Halloween greeting cards are given each year. (Yet I’ve never given nor received a Halloween card in my entire life!)

4. 50% of kids prefer to receive chocolate candy for Halloween, compared with 24% who prefer non-chocolate candy and 10% who preferred gum. (Which group were you in?)

5. The origins of trick-or-treating dates back 2,000 years when Celtic villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away phantom visitors. Tables of food were often left out to sooth unwelcome spirits. In the Middle Ages, people began dressing as ghosts, demons and other creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink.

6. The five most popular adult Halloween costumes in 2012 were: 1. Witch, 2. Vampire, 3. Pirate, 4. Batman, and 5. Zombie. The five most popular children’s costumes in 2010 (the last year data was available) were: 1. Princess, 2. Batman, 3. Spider-Man, 4. Witch, and 5. Disney Princess.  (Source: National Geographic)

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“TEAM WATERMELON” IN ACTION AT THE MARINE CORPS MARATHON

October 29th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

You might not think it would be, but October is a busy month for the National Watermelon Promotion Board. The flurry of activity was capped off this past weekend with the annual Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia.

The Marine Corps Marathon was created in 1976. With 30,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 50 countries, it’s the fifth largest marathon in the nation and the ninth largest in the world (it’s the largest marathon that doesn’t offer prize money).

Below are some photos of “Team Watermelon” in action at this year’s marathon. From what I’ve heard, they were all pretty worn out after the long day in Arlington, but that’s probably nothing compared to the exhaustion that was felt by the people who actually ran the 26.2 mile course!

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The watermelon queens pose with a fan at the watermelon booth.

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The queens pitched in to hand out watermelon to hungry runners and hungry runner-watchers during the Kids’ Run.

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Of course, there were plenty of Marines on hand at the Marine Corps Marathon, and a few of America’s bravest helped us unload a shipment of watermelon samples which would be given away during the event.

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The National Watermelon Promotion’s Board’s very own J. Slice stopped by during the Kid’s Fun Run to cheer on the pint-sized runners.

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Monica (left) from “Run, Eat, Repeat” (remember my interview with her?) stopped by the watermelon sampling table with her friend Steve (right). That’s Stephanie from the National Watermelon Promotion Board in the middle. I’m officially jealous of her “Fueled by Watermelon” T-shirt.

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If you’ve just run 26.2 miles, some juice watermelon chunks might make a nice snack, right? That’s why this table is loaded with watermelon samples. And all those boxes in the background (including many more boxes you can’t see) are filled with more samples. One race participant wrote on Facebook that the watermelon was “the best food item I have ever had after a race.”

How many samples were given away during the event? According to one very tired member of the National Watermelon Promotion Board team, about 48,000!

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The official mascot of the United State Marine Corps is Chesty the bulldog. He’s a pretty big deal and has lots of fans. He’s also a watermelon lover. Here he is enjoying a snack before heading off on an important Marine Corps mascot mission.

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RECIPE: BACON, CHEDDAR, WATERMELON, TOMATO AND PESTO SANDWICH

October 25th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I’m a huge fan of sandwiches whose names are abbreviated by simple letters. PBJ and BLT’s are two of the best ones. You can’t really combine those sandwiches though. I once tried a PBB. It wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely better than the PBLT.

Another tasty letter sandwich is the BCWTP – or the Bacon, Cheddar, Watermelon, Tomato and Pesto Sandwich. What’s not to love about it? Bacon is great. Cheddar cheese is great. Fresh tomato is great. Pesto is great. And watermelon? I think we all know how I feel about that.

I created one of these five-ingredient delicacies the other day for lunch and the result was something extraordinary. I had no doubts about the first three parts of the sandwich. Bacon, cheese and tomato have always been good friends. I’ve always enjoyed pesto, too, even as a sandwich spread. But the watermelon was the best part. It added a little sweetness to balance out the savory bacon and pesto and really brought this sandwich to the next level. Definitely worth a try the next time you’ve got some extra bacon, cheddar, watermelon, tomato and pesto lying around.

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BCWTP SANDWICH

INGREDIENTS

2 thick slices of bread (your choice), toasted
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
2 slices cheddar cheese
1 2/3 inch thick slice seedless watermelon about the same size as the bread
2 thin slices of tomato
4 slices cooked crisp bacon
2 butter lettuce leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

Spread the pesto over one side of each slice of toast. On one slice of toast stack the cheese, watermelon, tomato, bacon and lettuce on top of pesto. Place the other slice of toast, pesto side down, on top of the lettuce. Cut in half and enjoy.

For more recipes, check out the “Recipes” section of the National Watermelon Promotion Board website.

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: LOOKING AHEAD TO 2014

October 22nd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

With roughly two months remaining until the New Year (that’s right, folks), I’ve started giving some thought to my 2014 New Year’s resolution. As always, it’ll be watermelon themed, with the goal of helping me become a better, more well-rounded Watermelon Guy.

In the past, I’ve done relatively well when it comes to achieving my watermelon resolution goals. In 2012, I successfully organized and competed in a seed-spitting contest. Even though I didn’t win the contest, I consider my efforts to be a success. Last year, I set out to grow my own watermelon. I accomplished that, but only if you call a small, inedible, baseball-sized growth a “watermelon.”

So what will I set out to accomplish in 2014? Good question. Below are a few ideas:

1. Write a book – I’ve always wanted to write a book and a watermelon book might be a good start. I could write a book about the history of watermelon and all that it has to offer. Or maybe I’d borrow some inspiration from Greg Pizzoli and write a children’s book about watermelon.

2. Cook every watermelon recipe on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website – This one is a little ambitious, but I’ve been meaning to create more watermelon dishes, so this idea might work. Actually, scratch that. There are nearly 200 recipes on the website, and there’s no way I’ll be able to create that many meals, drinks and desserts … but maybe I could choose 52 of them and aim to cook up one per week.

3. Enter a watermelon eating contest – This one has real potential because it taps into my competitive nature in the same way that my seed-spitting contest resolution did a few years ago. I’ve entered plenty of eating competitions in the past, but never a watermelon eating contest. The challenge, of course, will be finding a watermelon eating contest in my area.

So there you have it. Three potential resolutions for the Watermelon Guy to tackle in 2014. Chime in below with a comment about which one you think I should attempt. And if you have any other ideas for watermelon-related New Year’s resolutions, I’d love to hear them!

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QUOTES REWRITTEN: BIGGER IS BETTER

October 18th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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The title of this post says it all when it comes to my philosophy about food. Bigger is always better. When I have a bowl of ice cream, it’s three or four scoops instead of one or two. When I have a burger, it’s a double cheeseburger instead of a puny single cheeseburger. And when I have watermelon, I’ll take a big ol’ wedge over a modest wedge any day of the week.

I should point out that I’m not advocating overconsumption in all aspects of your diet. Supersizing every meal can lead to a little extra weight in all the wrong places, which is why I practice a little restraint whenever I can.

Journalist and humorist Arthur Baer was a fellow believer that a little more is a good thing, at least when it comes to garlic. I agree with his original quote. Garlic is delicious, and when I’m cooking up a batch of lasagna or homemade spaghetti sauce, I usually double or triple the garlic dosage with delicious results!

But Baer’s quote works equally well when applied to watermelon, don’t you think? No one ever said, “I’ll just have a little watermelon, thank you.” And if they did, what they really mean is, “I’ll tell you I just want a little watermelon, but I’m going to have two or three more wedges before it’s all said and done.”

 

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ENTER TO WIN THIS ADORABLE HALLOWEEN COSTUME!

October 17th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picYesterday I wrote about watermelon-themed kids’ Halloween costumes, which makes today’s blog entry especially well-timed and exciting. The National Watermelon Promotion Board has teamed up with Totally Costumes to give away some adorable Watermelon Plush Belly Toddler costumes (size 4-6). That’s a picture of the costume on the right. See, I told you it was adorable!

The National Watermelon Promotion Board will give away one of these costumes (toddler not included) TOMORROW on its Facebook page. All you need to do to enter to win it is follow Watermelon.org on Facebook (you’ll find them here) and then leave a comment on tomorrow’s Facebook post in response to this question:

What will you dress up as on Halloween?

If you’re not dressing up, you can answer with what costume you’d like to wear if you were dressing up. I might be a furloughed government worker who never got the memo to come back to work (sweatpants, holey t-shirt, five-day growth of facial hair … essentially the same thing I dress up as every weekend at home). Or maybe I’d be a furloughed government worker zombie. Yeah, that’s definitely what I’d be!

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TRICK OR TREAT! KIDS’ WATERMELON COSTUMES FOR HALLOWEEN

October 16th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

picHalloween is fast approaching. Thankfully, my days of dressing up for the occasion are over, because I have no idea what costume I’d wear (a zombie pirate). My wife and I do, however, have to figure out what our three-year-old will dress up as. In the past, she’s been a bumblebee and a princess. This year, she’s confidently announced that she’d like to be a witch. I’m not sure if that’s a good witch or a bad witch. Either way, it looks like I’ll be creating a flying broom.

It’s entirely likely that she’ll change her mind at the last minute and make her daddy proud by opting for a watermelon-themed costume. Party City has the “Fruit Ninja” getup on the right, but I don’t’ think she’s entered her ninja phase yet.

I could also show off my carving skills and make her costume out of actual watermelons. Go ahead and laugh, but dressing children up in watermelons is apparently the newest trend in China. Chinese blogging site Weibo even chronicles the trend of older kids (and a few brazen adults) who carve masks and other accessories out of watermelon. I might do that for myself, but only if our little one is willing to join me.

A costume made of watermelon probably wouldn’t get my wife’s approval, so our little watermelon could opt for something more adorable like the costume below (courtesy of The Costume Café over on Etsy). It’s definitely cute, but even if she chose that outfit, I’d probably still need to make a witch’s broom.

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VINTAGE PHOTOS: ATTACK OF THE GIANT WATERMELON

October 14th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I don’t know why, but 100 years ago, people were really fascinated with giant watermelon. I’m talking about comically huge watermelons, created with some slick photography tricks and illustrations. Don’t believe me? The postcards below are proof.

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Like this postcard notes, this is apparently how they do things in North Orwell, PA. Not only do they grow massive fruit and vegetables in the small northern Pennsylvania town, they also raise freakishly strong little girls. That wedge they’re lifting effortlessly probably weighs around 400 pounds. I’m not sure what’s in the water up there in North Orwell, but it’s a little scary.

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They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this “watermelon blockade” is just one of many examples. Here, we see a man who was forced to stop his horse-and-buggy to clear some runaway watermelon that had found their way onto the road. I’m not really sure how they got there. Maybe they fell off the back of a giant watermelon cart.

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This 1909 postcard depicts a “California watermelon.” It looks more like a giant pickle to me, but whatever. Have you noticed that the watermelon of yesteryear got progressively larger as you travelled west? North Orwell’s melons were a little bigger than a cow, Texas grew ‘em twice as large, and California’s watermelon were the size of a school bus … even though they didn’t have school busses back then.

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Here’s another 1909 postcard featuring gargantuan fruit (it was apparently a good year for crops). These men harvest the watermelon the way you’d assume a 3,000 pound watermelon would be harvested – they cut it into pieces and haul it off to the farmer’s market. At least that’s what I think is happening in this photo. It’s also possible that these are normal-sized watermelon and the men in this photo are really small. If that’s the case, I’d like to know where they found the tiny horse.

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