One of our favorite books this summer was The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. A panicked crocodile swallows a watermelon seed and a hilarious stream of potential consequences developed by a wildly vivid imagination follows. The kids love the story. The illustrations are fabulously simple and weave an illustrative narrative that adds to the comical story line. As a result, we’ve spent our fair share of time constructing our own imaginative narratives about would really happen if one of us swallowed a watermelon seed. Apparently, we’ve concluded the following. One, your belly could explode when the watermelon gets too big and, like Humpty Dumpty, you would need to be put back together again. Two, the doctors would need to cut you open with a knife, like they did mommy’s belly, to get the watermelon out. Three, vines would grow out of your nose and ears. Fourth, you could turn into a watermelon, which would require you to live in the garden, and a watermelon-loving monster could come along and eat you. Additional questions like, “How many seeds are in a watermelon?” and “Why are some watermelons a different color?” have also dominated our muffled conversations, as we continue to chomp on the sweet stuff while our sticky arms drip with watermelon juice and our faces turn a light shade of red.
Our son has officially turn himself into the seed police and now carefully scans each of our bowls before we are allowed to eat them, looking for only the black seeds. We were able to convince him the white ones were safe to eat and that only the black ones would grow in his belly.
My recollection of watermelon is limited to the same hand carved watermelon fruit baskets that held colorful fruit salads at the local Elk’s Club or a picnic in the summer time. Obviously there was a lack of creativity in our hometown, because online you can find pictures at the National Watermelon Promotion Board of watermelons carved into sharks, monsters, fish, submarines, purses, pigs, teapots, turtles, hula girls, rabbits, porcupines, baby carriages, Minions, mermaids, penguins, and countless others.
And watermelons are not only for eating, but have claimed a following among athletes as well. There are a vast array of watermelon races on land and in the water, watermelon chunkin contests with giant slingshots, and watermelon rugby.
We love watermelon. Three of them are sitting on the counter right now. We’ve made watermelon and orange juice popsicles, watermelon and banana smoothies, watermelon gazpacho (not a family favorite), and most recently watermelon jerky. The process for jerky seemed simple enough, yet I was skeptical of the outcome. Considering my husband’s snarky comment about the economies of scale involved with leaving the oven on for 12 hours to make a bit of fruit leather, in addition to the fact that we don’t know anyone with a food dehydrator, we broke down and bought one. Watermelon jerky was the first experiment on our list and we love it! The kids were amazed to see how much of watermelon is actually water. The concentrated flavor in the chewy watermelon jerky needed a crunchy partner and banana chips won out in our house.
Watermelon Banana Biscotti
YIELD: approximately two dozen
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup barley flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ packed light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs and 2 egg whites
1 teaspoon banana flavored oil
½ cup crushed banana chips
1 cup watermelon jerky
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flours, sugars, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and banana flavored oil.
4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.
5. Add the banana chips and watermelon jerky, and knead until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.
6. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs. The dough will spread as it bakes.
7. Drizzle the top of the logs with agave and spread with your fingers. Sprinkle the top with sugar.
8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
9. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
What to do with the ends #28: Use the ends to replace the pallina in bocce.