THE QUOTABLE WATERMELON: ARE YOU AMONG THE BEST PEOPLE?

May 22nd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

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I’ve featured quotes about watermelon here on the blog in the past (here, here, and here). It’s something I had planned to do on a semi-regular basis, but then I realized something: As awesome as watermelon is, there aren’t that many good quotes about it. (Note to quotable sources: Let’s change that.)

So I’ve decided to take quotes about other things and “edit” them slightly to make them watermelon-specific, starting with today’s quote from Julia Child. Julia was, of course, a renowned chef who was known for bringing French cuisine to the American public, but I like to think she might have also been a fan of watermelon.

Plus, even if you add “watermelon” to her quote like I did above, her words still ring true. Everyone I know who consider themselves a “watermelon lover” are all really nice people. It makes perfect sense, too. Watermelon has a certain happy vibe about it, so anyone who eats a lot of watermelon might have a positive outlook as well.

I know I have a good attitude (or at least try to). And any time I’m feeling a little run down, a watermelon snack always seems to cheer me up. Again, that’s just me, but if you’re the same way, you might be one of the “best people” I know!

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AN INTERVIEW WITH THE NEW NATIONAL WATERMELON QUEEN

May 20th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The National Watermelon Association’s annual conference took place in February. The five-day event includes lots of activities, but one of the highlights is the crowning of the new National Watermelon Queen. This year’s queen is Amber Nolin from Enterprise, Alabama.

Amber is currently studying food and nutrition at the University of Florida. During her year as queen, Amber will have a busy schedule, traveling the nation and representing the watermelon industry at state fairs, conventions, trade shows, festivals and in-store events.

To help everyone get to know the National Watermelon Queen a little better, I recently interviewed Amber via email.

THANKS FOR AGREEING TO ANSWER A FEW QUESTIONS. HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED NOW THAT YOU’RE THE NATIONAL WATERMELON QUEEN?

There has been a lot more traveling, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Overall, I’d say the biggest change for me has been trying to manage school and my busy role as National Watermelon Queen. There have been many late nights in hotel rooms studying and doing homework, but every minute is completely worth it. I feel so blessed and honored to have this opportunity and know that I will have the year of a lifetime.

EVERY WATERMELON QUEEN HAS SOME SORT OF BACKGROUND TIE TO WATERMELON. WHAT’S YOURS?

I wouldn’t say that I had a background of watermelons, just childhood memories. The one that stands out the most was as a child, during the summer with my cousins, we would cut a watermelon in half and eat every last piece of the flesh and then we would float the rind on the pond and pretend it was a boat. I also can remember helping my dad pick the best watermelon out of the patch and loading up the trailer as full as we could.

WHAT PART OF BEING WATERMELON QUEEN ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?

I absolutely love traveling, but the one thing that I am looking most forward to is being able to meet people not only in the United States, but all over the world. I just traveled to Toronto, Canada. I was there for four days and was able to meet people from all over Canada, Italy, Guatemala, and South America. In my opinion, there aren’t many 21-year-olds who have an opportunity like that, and for that I am so grateful.

NOW THAT YOU’VE BEEN CROWNED, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE DURING YOUR TIME AS WATERMELON QUEEN?

I know for me, not coming from a watermelon-farming family, I had no idea of the process of getting the watermelons from the field to the consumer’s table. During my reign, I hope to educate people about that process. It has given me a whole new respect for the American farmer. People don’t realize all of the sleepless nights, hard work, money, and love for agriculture that a famer puts into his crops. In my life, I know that understanding and seeing this process firsthand has made me appreciate the produce that you see in the retail store.

EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE ONLY BEEN QUEEN FOR THREE MONTHS, WHAT’S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR REIGN SO FAR?

Children hold such a dear place in my heart, so my first school promotion has definitely stood out. It was actually on my birthday, and I could not have chosen a more perfect place to be. I was able to read the famous children’s book, “A Watermelon Day,” and we also helped the students plant their very own seeded and seedless watermelons. I had a blast!

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR THE GIRLS OUT THERE WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE A WATERMELON QUEEN SOMEDAY?

If I could pass on one piece of advice, it would be to never take for granted the opportunities that God gives you. Looking back on my year as the Alabama Watermelon Queen, and even now as the National Queen, I have been blessed to have an opportunity that has truly changed my life.

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STICK + WATERMELON WEDGE = WATERMELON POPSICLE!

May 16th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy


Now that I’m pushing 40 (it pains me just to type that), I don’t eat a lot of popsicles. Luckily, I’ve got an almost-three-year-old running around the house, and she loves popsicles. She’s also not shy about sharing them with me, so I’ve been able to indulge in the long-lost snack more often lately.

The popsicles we buy are carefully chosen based on their combination of real fruit juice and overall healthiness. So when I saw a recipe on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website for “Watermelon Slice Popsicles,” I had to check it out. Turns out, it’s the simplest recipe they’ve got – just take a watermelon wedge and put a popsicle stick in the bottom!

You can freeze the wedges, either fully or partially, to make them colder and even more refreshing. I tested them out with our little popsicle critic and she gave them two thumbs up.

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SECOND SLICE: IS IT OKAY TO EAT WATERMELON SEEDS?

May 13th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

Last week’s entry, which featured the kids’ book about a hungry crocodile who becomes nervous after swallowing a watermelon seed, made me think about this question.

Believe it or not, I still hear from people (including family members who should know better) who believe that eating watermelon seeds is somehow harmful. It’s a topic Chef Harry tackled in a blog entry a few years ago, but I’ve decided to post it again. I’ll also be forwarding a link to this entry to my Uncle Stan.

MICHAEL C. FROM SAN DIEGO, CA, ASKS: Is it okay to eat watermelon seeds?

 

CHEF HARRY SAYS: For some reason, our mothers liked to tell us that if we ate a watermelon seed, a watermelon would grow in our stomach. I was never sure where that tall tale came from or why parents perpetuated it, but millions of kids grow up in constant fear of watermelon seeds because they don’t want to wake up one morning with a 10-pound fruit germinating in their belly. Of course, this isn’t true.

Other people (i.e., those over the age of seven who are wise to the stories adults tell) fear that watermelon seeds contain some sort of harmful chemicals and should therefore be avoided at all costs. This isn’t true either.

I know plenty of people who like to eat watermelon seeds, including many who roast them with salt like pumpkin seeds. They’re a tasty snack if you give them a chance. Maybe that’s why our parents told us not to eat the seeds. They wanted us to save them so they could roast them and enjoy them after the kids went to bed. Excuse me … I have to call my mother.

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MAY PRIZE: “THE WATERMELON SEED” BOOK

May 9th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

As the father of a two-year-old girl, I spend a lot of time reading to her. She has no interest in my baseball biographies and zombie novels (trust me, I’ve tried), so our reading list is usually limited to big, colorful books with about 10 pages. I don’t mind this, of course, and it actually makes me feel pretty productive. After all, not many people can ever say they’ve read 14 books in a single day.

In my recent online search for new toddler reading material, I came across a book called “The Watermelon Seed” by Greg Pizzoli. Here’s what the book’s publisher had to say about it:

“With perfect comic pacing, Greg Pizzoli introduces us to one funny crocodile who has one big fear: swallowing a watermelon seed. What will he do when his greatest fear is realized? Will vines sprout out his ears? Will his skin turn pink? This crocodile has a wild imagination that kids will love.”

I reached out to Greg to ask him a few questions about the book, and here’s what he had to say:

What inspired you to write about watermelon for your first picture book?

I genuinely love watermelon! It’s my favorite summer food, and I’m known to eat a big slab for dessert whenever the temperature gets up around 80 degrees, so I totally relate to Kroc’s enthusiasm. Plus they aren’t nearly as hard to draw as say, pineapples.

The crocodile is pretty nervous about swallowing that watermelon seed. Did you have a similar experience as a child?

I was definitely told not to swallow any watermelon seeds growing up because I’d have a plant growing in my belly. Nobody wants that. I was forbidden to swallow gum, too. And legos. I think a lot of parenting must be encouraging your kids not to eat your stuff.

What’s next for you as an author? Any more kids’ books on the horizon?

Lot’s more coming soon! Next year I have two more books of my own coming out. One about a dog who drives a race car. That comes out summer 2014. I also have a non-fiction picture book coming out in fall 2014 about a con-man who sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal. I just went to Paris to research lattes and croissants for the book. It was exhausting.

You can buy The Watermelon Seed on Amazon. It won’t be released until May 14, but if you pre-order the book through Greg’s website, you’ll receive the book AND a limited edition screen print. I purchased a copy for myself, but the author has agreed to donate a signed copy of the book as this month’s prize. I’ll choose one comment from all the comments received on the blog this month to win it.

As for how the crocodile turns out after swallowing that watermelon seed, I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be okay!

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RECIPE: WATERMELON RELISH

May 7th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The National Watermelon Promotion Board has updated the “Recipes” section of its website with a bunch of new watermelon-inspired creations. If you haven’t checked out the recipes yet, you definitely should.

One of the newest additions is something called watermelon relish. It’s essentially diced watermelon, watermelon rind, lemon zest and cinnamon tossed together to make a fantastic topping for all sorts of spring and summer meals. Actually, you’d probably only put the relish on hot dogs and hamburgers. I can’t really think of too many other relish-topped dishes, but the recipe below suggests mincing up the relish for use as a salad topping or sandwich spread.

Out of curiosity, I whipped up a batch of the relish and put in on a hot dog. I wasn’t quite sure how the watermelon rind would taste in this recipe, but it actually turned out to be pretty good. If you’re nervous about it, too, feel free to substitute extra diced watermelon for the rind. Enjoy!

WATERMELON RELISH

INGREDIENTS

2 cups watermelon rind, dark-green skin removed and white part cut into 1/3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 ½ cups water and ¾ cup water, divided
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch each cinnamon and cloves
2 cups diced watermelon

DIRECTIONS

Mix rind with 2 1/2 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt. Let stand covered at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse well.

In medium saucepan, combine sugar with 3/4 cup water, 2 teaspoons salt, the lemon zest and juice, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, add the rind and cook gently for about 40 minutes or until the rind is translucent and tender (do not boil hard as mixture could caramelize). When done, remove from heat and cool. Lastly, mix in the diced watermelon.

The watermelon relish will keep refrigerated for four days. Makes ¾ quart. Serving suggestion: Mince the finished relish for a salad topping or sandwich spread.

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CARVE UP A WATERMELON IN 20 SECONDS? BELIEVE IT!

May 4th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

Over the years, I’ve carved more than my fair share of watermelons. So many, in fact, that whenever I’m at a family gathering where watermelon is present, I’m usually asked to be the designated carver. I’m good at it – even relatively speedy – but I’m definitely not as fast with a knife as the guy in the video above.

His impressive knife skills reduce a whole watermelon into bite-sized chunks in about 20 seconds. The video was featured on the Today Show and has racked up more than 4 million views on YouTube.

Of course, I don’t recommend attempting to improve on his time. One, his feat would be hard to beat, but it’s also a little dangerous. He’s wearing a protective glove on his non-cutting hand, but it’s still risky. Instead, take your time and enjoy the process. I usually do – while also sampling a few pieces of watermelon, of course.

Speaking of watermelon on TV – not long ago, the Final Jeopardy question on Jeopardy! was this: “The national promotion board for this food, Citrullus lanatus, lists hydration as a primary benefit.”

The answer, of course, is watermelon!

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VINTAGE PHOTO: THE WATERMELON SALE

May 2nd, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

The title of this photo is “Watermelon Sale,” but I’m not entirely convinced that this couple is selling their prize melons. I mean, I assume they’d sell them for the right price, but I don’t see a sign advertising the sale, so it’s possible that they’re just showing off their watermelons.

While I’m certain that the three whole melons and two half-melons are, indeed, watermelons, I’m not quite sure what type of melons are being displayed on the right side of the table (along with the one the missus is holding). Are they watermelon? Are they some other type of melon? Perhaps a rare species that hasn’t been seen since 1908 (which I’m guessing is around when this photo was taken)?

The gentleman on the left seems pretty proud of his display, which leads me to believe that if you walked up to him with a crisp one dollar bill, he might not part with that beautiful 20-pounder on the left. For a dollar and a quarter though, he might change his mind.

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RECIPE: WATERMELON WALNUT BAGEL SPREAD

April 30th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

I like walnuts, I like cream cheese, I like bagels, and I like watermelon. I even like cinnamon. So it makes sense that if you combined all those ingredients, it would create a breakfast that I couldn’t ignore.

So I whipped up a batch of the watermelon walnut bagel spread from the recipe I found on the National Watermelon Promotion Board website (that’s a picture of my morning meal on the right). The result was pretty darn good. So good, in fact, I might whip up a larger batch of the bagel spread, package it up, and attempt to sell my creation to local bagel shops. Or just keep it all for myself. Yeah, I’ll probably do that.

WATERMELON WALNUT BAGEL SPREAD

INGREDIENTS:

6 ounces whipped cream cheese
2-3 ounces walnut pieces, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup minced seedless watermelon

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix together the cream cheese, walnuts and cinnamon. Just before using, mix in the watermelon. Spread liberally on toasted bagels. Makes about 1 1/2 cups or enough for 4 toasted bagels.

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION UPDATE: MY SEEDLINGS HAVE (FINALLY) SPROUTED!

April 26th, 2013 by The Watermelon Guy

In March, I shared the first step of my New Year’s resolution to grow my own watermelon: planting the seeds. (By the way, I replanted the seeds two days later in smaller, more “transplant-friendly” biodegradable containers – each one has two seeds in it – that can just be plopped into the ground when it comes time to move my sprouts outdoors.)

After I planted the seeds, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. I watered them and set them on the windowsill where they’d get the most sunlight, then stood back and watched. When would they sprout? I wasn’t sure. I read online that it might only take a few days (that seemed awfully fast) or up to a few weeks.

One week went by and still no baby watermelon plants. Two weeks went by. No baby watermelon plants. Three weeks went by. Still nothing. I was beginning to worry. Finally, just last week, a tiny green seedling broke though the surface of the soil in one of the six pots I planted. When I first discovered it, I danced a happy little dance and excitedly brought the pot into the living room to show it to my wife. (She wasn’t as excited, but she played along.)

Only three days after it first peeked through, both seeds in that pot are off to a good start. Below is a picture of the seedlings. Adorable little buggers, aren’t they?

As of today, three of my pots are showing activity. I’m still waiting on the other three, but I expect all six to be off and running before long. Below is a shot of one of the pots, where a seedling became barely visible overnight. Can you spot the future watermelon vine?

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