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What To Do With Big Melons

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Mr. Meat and Potatoes would prefer to have watermelon over almost any dessert I could concoct for him. It is a treat to him, akin to what homemade ice cream or a bath in caramel sauce would be for me. I could make a tower of tira misu, and he'd take the melon instead. I could not disagree more.

Melons fall into the "gourd" category, and generally I dislike anything gourdish, unless it is heavily disguised in bread, butter, or cheese.

However, I recently purchased a whole melon, because I had a coupon, and I could not resist the siren song of such a quintessentially summer item, in all its big green beauty, if it was a dollar off.

Mr. Meat and Potatoes was on the road, and I was stuck with the behemoth thing. It rolled around in our extra fridge, laughing at me for being such a sucker for a coupon and a good supermarket display. I DON'T LIKE WATERMELON, I kept shouting at it.

Finally, I had to do something with the thing or the dollar coupon would have been for naught, and WE CAN'T HAVE THAT.

I concocted two recipes, and still had half a watermelon left over, which I sliced into tall peaks and took to a party, where it was devoured by the swarming crowd. There must be something wrong with me. I see it, and it's pretty, it looks like it should be good, but watermelon, for me, always tastes like disappointment.

However, I must say, I very much enjoyed the fruits of my fruited labor, and the recipes turned out better than I could have expected. It must be like my tomato issue. I like tomato (and watermelon) products, even if I don't like the item itself.

For these recipes, you will have to open your heart and mind. Be brave, grasshopper, for it is GOOD. (RIP David Carradine.)

Watermelon Ice Cream

1 recipe homemade ice cream custard
1/4 a whole watermelon (about 6 cups of fruit)
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips (I stole this idea from Emeril, I must admit)

Make your custard the day ahead so it can "cure" for at least 6 hours.

Day of: Cut your watermelon in half, and then in half again. You'll need to remove the seeds. I found the best way to do this was to cut the melon into chunks. The seeds run in rows and if you slice right down that row, you will expose all the seeds. Then you can use a fork and just pull them right out. It took about 10 to de-seed the quarter I used for ice cream.

Get out your trusty food processor and give the watermelon (in its juice) a few good turns. I left a few chunks, so the ice cream would have that "authentic fruit" rusticness.

Add the pureed fruit and juice to your cream mixture, and dump in the chocolate chips. Don't worry that they all fall to the bottom, the churning during freezing will evenly distribute them.

You'll end up with a delicately pink ice cream with chocolate chip "seeds". The watermelon flavor is mild, but is the most refreshing ice cream I ever had. I ate seven cups.

I used the other quarter of the melon to make myself some watermelon salad, which I could eat in leiu of birthday cake, it's so good.

Watermelon-Cilantro Salad, or, The Most Beautiful Salad You'll Ever Make

1/4 watermelon, cubed (about 6 cups)
1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped, stems removed (also could use mint, I think)
2 C roasted, salted peanuts
1/4 C chopped red onion (I think green onions would be good too)
1/4 C red wine vinegar
2 T honey
1 tsp kosher salt
3 T lime juice (fresh squeezed is ALWAYS best)

Stir it all up and serve it next to your favorite hot BBQ item. The mixture of salty, sweet, and heat from the red onion is summertime perfection. And, it's gorgeous.

It was a wonderful Renaissance of Watermelon for me. While I am sure that Mr. Meat and Potatoes will curse the blasphemy of messing up Nature's Perfect Food by adding ingredients to it, I am sure I'm onto something. This might save our marriage.

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