Fermented Watermelon Rind Salsa

After cutting a watermelon for breakfast I am left with the rind and a dilemma. Do I have time to process this or do I compost? I keep looking at the green skin and thinking of its cousin, the cucumber. Would I ever toss all that cucumber? NO! So I take a few bites of the rind for good measure, still thinking, because I know it is edible and quite tasty and it takes me to memories of watermelon rind sweets I grew up eating in Brazil called “Doce de Casca de Melancia.”

A couple more of those firm and crisp bites and I decided I had time to use at least a few cups of the ring and I would compost the rest. “Because it is summer and I don’t have time!” I reasoned again. I could probably have thought the same if it was winter. But as I started cutting the ring, as it often happens, I am gaining time. It is a wonderful feeling. I am opening a window into my schedule that was not there! (And I am even making time to write this post now.) I kept going, until I had about 4 quarts of loose pack ingredients. All the produce together weighted about 5.5 to 6 pounds. So I went for the approximation Sandor Katz  ( Wild Fermentation ) uses to ferment sauerkraut — 3 TBSP of sea salt for 5 pounds of chopped cabbage.  Another approximation I have used, about  2 -3 tsp of sea salt for each quart of produce.  This recipe is more to inspire us to use what we have. It gives flexibility if you have extra tomatoes or extra onions. It had enough liquid to keep the vegetables under the brine, but if you do not, you can add a bit of water or whey. And now we have almost one gallon of salsa for the summer!

Fermented Watermelon Rind Salsa

Almost all the rind of one medium watermelon.

6 tomatoes, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 jalapeño peppers, chopped, without the seeds ( leave seeds in if you would like extra hot)

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch of parsley , chopped including stems

1 hipping TBSP dried oregano

1 hipping TBSP dried ground cumin

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 TBSP sea salt

Mix everything and place in a jar. Vegetables and fruit should be under the brine while it ferments. Cover with a lid. Leave on the counter for approximately 2-3 days and taste to desired flavor. Burp the jar daily to release built-up carbon dioxide.

Transfer to the fridge to store. Bom Apetite!

After tasting I feel like I will add some cayenne pepper!



More time or more starter?

More time, more water or more starter? I am finding the answer
in the words of Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson
“It is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.”
This week I gave myself an assignment to play with the amount of starter to see how my sourdough bread would develop.
This exercise took me to my early days of photography class, practicing the “Exposure Triangle.” Understanding the relationship between
Aperture (measure of how open or closed the lens’ iris is)
Shutter speed (measure of how long it remains open) and
ISO (number indication of how sensitive a film or imaging sensor is to light)
This doesn’t only help me take a better photo, it helps me make a choice of how I want to tell a story. What part of the frame do I want to keep in focus? Do I want to show motion?


I am also seeking to learn relationships between ingredients and time to make different breads. Sometimes we want fast, sometimes we want flavor. Each loaf, like a photograph, tells a story that may express our skills, visions and emotions.
I am honored to teach  a photography class: Bread Photo Booth: How to Take the Food Pictures You Want and Tell a Story, Too.

This class will rethink perfection, and use personal aesthetics to consider how images can entice, intrigue and engage. We’ll explore how to tell a story in a sea of perfectly styled photos. Let’s keep the conversation going.

I practiced this little formula: starter, water or salt / flour x 100 = hydration


Flour Ambassador Soda Bread

Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”

We just got back from a family walk at a local park we go often. The sunshine is melting the snow. We walked under tall evergreens and appreciate how the same trees look with the snow around them. We feel Spring will arrive soon. Yesterday my friend  Amy Halloran  asked me to put together a video using  photos I took of her making her wonderful whole wheat soda bread. It took me back to her kitchen, but this time with my “new eyes.” That’s how I love to cook. We don’t have to go far to experience renewal and new growth, we can revisit and rediscover recipes and ingredients.

Flour Ambassador Soda Bread 
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
2 cups stoneground white whole wheat pastry flour (I used White Whole Wheat )
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
1 egg
3 tablespoons yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1. Combine dry ingredients with a whisk.
2. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes.
3. With a pastry blender or your fingers, incorporate butter into the flour mixture.
The result does not have to be smooth — some pea-sized pieces are OK, even
4. Whisk together egg, yogurt and milk. Using a fork, blend until everything is just
barely incorporated.
5. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead very lightly, just about five times.
6. Pat into a round about 8 inches across and transfer to a buttered cookie sheet.
Score into six  pieces.
7. Let dough rest 10 minutes while preheating oven to 400 F.
8. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown at the edges. (I covered the last 10 minutes of baking)  


Something green #familywalk #storycooking #evergreen

A post shared by StoryCooking (@elliemarkovitch) on


Rethinking Perfect


I have been making naturally leavened breads for several years. I was gifted a sourdough starter from my friend Phyllis and I have learned from a very generous community.  I use to look at beautiful pictures of breads and think “oh I hope I can make something like that…”

Now my idea of the “perfect” bread is the one that reflects my life, my family and the food choices we are able to make, which means “imperfect,” but truly wonderful. Each loaf is different and carries the intentions of this humble baker: sustenance, personal aesthetic, community, faith and family.

When I moved to Brazil last year, I took my starter with me on our journey. I didn’t know where we would be and when I would get our belongings out of storage. So I set out to find a simple recipe I could make using flour and water on any kitchen or using any kind of oven.

I started wondering if there was a formula, a way to find a rhythm so that I could make bread part of my family’s life. I read Flo Makanai formula  and couldn’t wait to try. I love that the math comes easy and I can use what I have. I have made 100% whole grain using this formula and also egg bread (eggs, fats and liquids measured as 2 parts).  I have used this formula to make stem buns and focaccia.

Please see some of my notes bellow

1 2 3 sourdough formula

1 part leaven, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour (in weight)

2% salt

Let’s say we will start with 50g

I want my hands and my heart leading the way I bake. Many times it's about trusting what I have learned but mostly is about not being affraid of taking a chance. Baking with #wildyeast is embracing all the things I can't control or don't know like different flours, change in the weather or events in my life. Each loaf will be different and will have a different story. How exciting! #rethinkingperfect . Here is my wildyeast from a jar that I keep in the fridge. I am planning to make bread so I am going to wake it up by feeding a portion of it water and flour. I do use a scale but I have made the #123sourdoughformula bread ( for how-to follow this hashtag) just by looking at the amount. I added 50g of unfed #wildyeast from the fridge to a container and the same amount of flour and water (100% hydration). So I will end up with 150g . Some Recipes will ask for 30g others 300g of #levain (fed starter) … In warm weather the #levain can be bubbly in a few hours. It gets confusing as we all internalize a process that works for us, but that is one way I do it. For this formula, I will then add 300g of water and 450g of flour (which half whole grain can be a nice place to start) Mix for 6 minutes by hand Do some streach and folds every 30 minutes repeating 3 times. Then make a boule, a round and put the #sourdough in the fridge overnight in a covered container until you are ready to bake. When ready to bake, take it out, shape and let it rise 2-3 hrs and bake. #storycooking #FloMakanaiSourdoughFormula @flourambassador #sourdoughseptember #readwritecook2017

A post shared by StoryCooking (@elliemarkovitch) on

Before going to bed make leaven:

3 tbsp (50g) starter from the fridge

6 tbsp (50g) flour

1/4 cup (50g) of water

Mix well, cover and let it ferment overnight. In the morning the starter will be bubbly. This is the leaven we will use to make bread.


In the morning, for the bread, mix 6 minutes:

150g leaven fed and bubbly

1 1/4 cup (300g) water

3 cups (450g ) flour (mix as you would like, for example 200g unbleached white, 200g While whole wheat, 50g rye)

2 tsp salt

Let it double, first rise.

During the first rise I often stretch and fold 3 or 4 times every 30 minutes (on a  shape of an envelope. (see videos bellow or hashtag on instagram: #123sourdgouhformula )  to help develop and strengthen the gluten. Then let it rise until almost double at room temperature.

Shape into a boule, round. Place in a floured fabric inside a bowl, covered.

Let it rise about a third in the fridge until you can bake, 8 to 24 hrs.

Score bread

Bake 450F for 30 minutes

or in a Dutch oven covered 25 minutes and uncovered another 25.

To store and keep the starter going, I feed it the same way I make leaven and put it back in the fridge until I am ready to make bread again.

I hope bread making makes you happy, like listening to a favorite song

Today's bread was a wonderful experience for me, like this song… The bread was inspired by the #123sourdoughformula . Dona Maria José (next photo) and I are getting to know each other while making bread. She shared recipes with me from her life as a cook, as a native of #pantanal . I talked about my desire to b(r)ake freely and more intuitively​. She doesn't have a cookbook or a notebook. Yesterday we fed the starter and made #levain Today: we got the levain amount (1). For the water amount 1×2. For the flour amount 1×3 and a bit more. #rethinkingperfect #sourdough We baked bread in a oven that doesn't say how hot it is. Voice: Luis Vicente, who serenaded and took our picture. Thank you! Música: #MeioDeCampo by #GilbertoGil "Dear friend Afonsinho I'm still here improving the imperfect Giving a time, finding a way disdaining perfection … Despising perfection That perfection is a goal Defended by the goalkeeper Who plays for the national team And I'm not Pele, or anything. If much, I'm a Toastāo Making a goal in this match is not easy, my brother It went ball, and everything!" #pantanal #readwritecook2017 #storycookingbrazil

A post shared by StoryCooking (@elliemarkovitch) on

Hello Maine

Thank you for following Story Cooking (elliemarkovitch) on Instagram this past year. I hope you enjoyed the photos and recipes under the hashtag #readwritecook2017. It has been a blessed year. I had the opportunity to reconnect while in Brazil ( #storycookingbrazil ) . I took my sourdough every where I went and baked lots of bread. I celebrated cake with family and friends, ate tropical fruits every day and traveled. Now we are back in the Northeast and excited to experience Maine!



What do you want more of in 2017? We want to take 20 minutes every day to
connect with food and words. Join us. Share your stories of reading, writing and
cooking and hashtag them #ReadWriteCook2017 #take20minutes

Do you want to bake your own bread? Cook more at home? Set up regular times
for reading? Cultivating habits is easier with friends, so we invite you to join our

Decide what goal you want to focus on, state it in your first post, and show us
again and again how you are creating patterns in your life.
Show us your flour. Snap a shot of the page you’re reading. Show us your
ingredients. People you are sharing meals with.
The rules? None. The suggestions: set aside 20 minutes a day. Choose one
goal. Switch focus after a week, a month, a year – whenever you want to guide
your attentions to another area.

This idea comes from two friends who want to bridge the gap between Brazil and upstate New York, where they used to inspire each other in cooking, writing and photography projects. Photojournalist @Ellie Markovitch (storycooking.com) is
pushing the reset button, returning to her home country, starting a kitchen from
scratch in Rio de Janeiro. Writer @Amy.Halloran, @flourambassador (amyhalloran.net) wants to set a tone for growth, and develop a social structure to support it past the first weeks of the new year.

And talking about friends, here some of the faces of my continued inspiration and support:2016-inspiration

My hubby and daughters, Phyllis, my fellow pea in the pod, Liz a photographer, Celeste my mother, Katrin a chef, Justine a farmer and Amy a writer.

The Year in Review


Thank you everyone for checking in and following #storycooking and #storycookingbrazil .

The past year was very intense with many changes for our little family. As you know, we moved to Brazil. We had a lot of celebrations that included good byes, welcomes and a lot of cake! I also got to travel with my husband to Peru and celebrated our birthdays with awesome hikes.

Now we are ready to settle in Rio de Janeiro, the kids spent time with grandma and brushed up on their Portuguese. We ate a lot of tropical fruits and I was able to keep cooking with friends, relatives and local schools. You can find recipes with the photos on my Instagram feed @elliemarkovitch . Yes, you can see above, my #beetlove still strong.




A Arte da Fermentação na Gastronomia


It’s an honor to lead this #CulinarySalon at Espaço Culturama.

É uma honra liderar este salão de culinária no Espaço Culturama.

Curso: A Arte da Fermentação na Gastronomia
Datas: 28 e 30 de novembro e 01 de dezembro
Horário: 19h às 22h
Duração: 09 h/aula


Explorar e resgatar a arte de produzir alimentos usando processos fermentativos, ricos em bactérias benéficas e enzimas alimentares, essenciais para a produção de alimentos como #chucrute (em alemão: Sauerkraut), #KefirdeAgua e #Kombucha e Pão de Fermentação Natural (#levain). Demonstrar o que é a fermentação e como incorporar alimentos e bebidas probióticas na alimentação diária, por meio de #OficinasParticipativas e vivenciais com degustação.

Informações e inscrições: 3924-1917

Go-to-Sweet Rolls


One of my favorite egg bread, sweet roll recipe is  King Arthur Cinna Buns recipe . I adapted and have used whole grain flours as well maple syrup  or honey for sweetener. I have cut the sugar in half and other times used oil for the butter and water for the milk. This egg dough makes pretty braided bread too. I have made with fresh and dried fruits. I have added nuts and chocolate chips. I have also used wild yeast! I use this recipe as my go-to sweet roll.

I like to bake half of the recipe right away and freeze the other half. When ready for sweet rolls, I let them thaw overnight in the fridge and bake the next morning. For the icing, when we use, a thin drizzle of cream cheese frosting goes long ways and I often have that in my freezer too, ready to go. But a spoon of homemade yogurt it is just perfect on them too.

Go-to Sweet Roll

adapted from King Arthur Cinna Buns recipe

1 cup lukewarm milk or other liquid like whey, water, coconut milk
1/3 cup (75 grams) butter, cut up or oil
1  teaspoons salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/4 to 1/2 cup  sugar, maple syrup, honey, muscovado
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour or a mix of whole grain and all purposeFor the filling, make a paste: 1/3 cup butter, softened, 1 cup muscovado sugar, 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the dough, mix together all ingredients and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make s smooth, soft dough. I mix for about 10- 12 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough rise until it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough in half. Open each half into a rectangle and spread half the filling paste over each half. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 14-18 slices.

Place the rolls in 2 lightly greased 9″ x 13″ pans. Cover the pan with a towel and let the rolls rise until they’re nearly doubled. Or at this point, transfer to the fridge for slow rise or freeze to bake later. Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake them on a preheated  oven until they’re golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. I usually take them out of the fridge and let the rolls sit on the counter for about 1 hour before baking them.





When life gives us papayas that are perfectly ripe and full of flavor,
we make time to savor them.


Savor | Definition of Savor by Merriam-Webster

transitive verb. 1 : to give flavor to : season.

2 a : to have experience of : taste

   b : to taste or smell with pleasure : relish

   c : to delight in : enjoy <savoring the moment>

“You only think of food?” said my mother this morning in a exclamatory question.

Savoring Food is a way I savor life. Another way is trough photography. It may look like a simple way. And it is. I am truly happy to dwell in my kitchen, with my camera. There I go to work. There I am myself and I have fun. There I am joined by friends and loved ones. Most of the time, my family is my only audience.

My friend Nancy Weber said joking: “you have one track mind!” when I asked about the edible flowers on her bouquet. And this week my friend Amy Haloran comment on one of my  street fruit tree photos: “You see food everywhere!”


One of the main reasons I savor is to share. I have had the privileged to witness, in my garden and in the city, the journey seeds take before it reaches my plate and I call it food or nourishment.  I also have witness food insecurity in several countries including the United States and Brazil. I believe all of us can be involved with food rescuing from our kitchens to our communities. Individually, collectively and creatively, we can do a lot to preserve food’s beauty and nutrition.

I have learned to appreciate many aspects of food preparation. When I worked with my friend katrin Haldeman at her cafe, she called it KitchenZen. I am always ready to celebrate a family recipe or excited for a new discovery in the kitchen because I relish! I savor!

Bellow a cart of papayas I rescued from my neighborhood grocery store and the recipes I made.


(photos of papayas rescued from a local grocery store).

Papaya Jam da Celeste
3 to 4 pounds of papaya, seeds and skin removed,
1 to 2 cups of sugar
6 clovers
Juice of 2 lemons

1) Blend papaya without adding water

2) Add papaya to a sauce pan with sugar and clovers and cook on low, stirring until it reduces. To check, hold spoon over the pot. When the jam forms a thick drop that does not run off (or candy thermometer 220°F) the jam is ready.
Turn off the stove and stir in juice of 2 lemons. Let the jam cool down completely.
If not canning, freeze or keep refrigerated
Bom Apetite!