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Watermelon Fourth of July

Every Fourth of July party is decorated in red, white and blue and accented with stars. For a change of pace, I’m going with a watermelon theme this year. After all, it seems we eat a truckload of watermelons throughout the party anyway. Why not let the watermelon take center stage for a change.

Borrowing a tradition from Halloween, this Independence Day I’m going to do some watermelon carving. Using stencils, a sharp knife and a vegetable peeler, my watermelons will display such artistry as stars, rockets, waving flags, and happy faces. I will use them as centerpieces on several tables that are scattered about the shady places on the lawn.

As guests arrive, they will be treated to an ice cold Minty Watermelon Cooler. The following recipe makes eight servings of an eight ounce drink:

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds chopped seedless watermelon (about 5 cups)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 cups of ginger ale
  • Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish (optional)
  • White rum (optional)

Puree watermelon in blender until smooth.

Mix chopped mint leaves, ¼ cup sugar, and ¼ cup water in bowl and microwave on high about 1 minute

Transfer mixture into blender and blend with watermelon for about 30 seconds.

In bowl mix remaining sugar and water, microwave until syrup consistency, about 1 minute.

Mix with watermelon mixture.

Pour equal amounts into eight glasses. Top with ginger ale and garnish with sprigs of mint. Serve.

Another table setting I plan to use featuring watermelons and kabobs of fruit is simple to make. Cut smaller round melons in half. Using a small melon ball utensil, carve out the meat. Using small cookie cutters cut various firm fruits, such as mango and pineapple, into different shapes. Cut larger chunks of fruit and fill the hollowed out watermelon shell. Skewer small melon balls and various shaped fruits on kabob sticks and secure them standing upright in the melon bowl. I may even throw in a small flag into the mix.

No summer season party would really be a party without ice cream. A fun way to feature watermelon is to serve watermelon ice cream in green bowls and decorate with chocolate chips to simulate seeds. Simple, cute and fun.

Outdoor parties in hot weather with sweets on the menu are a great way to attract some uninvited guests, like mosquitoes and flies. Rather than use the typical citronella candles and torches, I decided to get creative and green and make my own watermelon version. First, find the smallest round watermelons you can find. You’ll also need to buy citronella oil and some wicks. Wicks can usually be found at a craft store. To fill your candles, use as much citronella oil as needed. You will also need one paperclip for each candle but, if you’re like me, you probably have some around the house.

  • Cut the watermelons in half and carve out the meat.
  • Next, slice a bit off of the bottom round portion to help it sit stable and not rock around on the table.
  • Unbend a paper clip and fashion into a 90 degree angle with a twist in the middle where it bends. This will create a small loop to feed the wick through. One end of the paper clip will rest on the bottom of the watermelon bowl. The other end will be fashioned into a hook shape that can rest on the lip of the watermelon bowl.
  • Coil the wick at the bottom of the bowl and feed the end that will be lit up and through the small loop in the bent paper clip.
  • Fill the watermelon bowl with citronella oil and the candles are ready to light up!

And, of course, no Fourth of July picnic would be complete without the traditional watermelon eating contest. A long table set with long melons cut in lengthhwise quarters should be the crowning event of the picnic, occurring just before sunset and the fabulous fireworks everyone is waiting for.

These are just a few ways to feature watermelons at your next Fourth of July picnic. I hope you enjoy the versatility of this wonderful summer fruit. May your party be a smashing success!

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