I am annoyed with the internet (and so is Chelsea), or maybe just the iCloud, but nonetheless I am annoyed because the last set of photos I took with my iPhone are not uploading to the iPad.  That means they are not making it to the appropriate blog post, and I am just OCD enough to be totally discombobulated by this minor fact.

Courthouse in the jungle, the mighty jungle

I do have some available photos from one of my neighborhood walks, however, and in keeping with my delight in the esoteric, I present to you the wackiest railroad crossings in Kissimmee, or maybe the world. What makes them wacky, you ask? Well, they are right next to each other.  A hairpin turn, like the one I had to navigate in total fog, in the dark, in the Shawangunk Mountains, with absolutely no help from my buddies Mark and Steve.  (Thanks, guys. So what if it was 1972, I was traumatized!)

It's a 5-point intersection of 3 different roads with 
a hairpin double railroad crossing, in a residential neighborhood.

First, the tracks encircle downtown Kissimmee like a half moon before heading further south.  So if I am washing dishes and looking out the window of my southern-exposure kitchen, I can see the above crossing.  If I happen to be standing on my northern-exposure facing front walk, and look towards the courthouse, I will hear, and possibly see, the same southbound train about to whoosh across the above intersection.

The car in the photo is coming from Lakeshore; if he wants
 to head south on Clyde, he's got to hang a hairpin, crossing the 
tracks twice in a 2-second period. In a residential neighborhood, oy ...

This is the same train that rumbles past my soon-to-be former office building. Talk about noisy - some genius thought it would be a great idea to build an 8-story, mixed purpose high-rise (well, for Kissimmee it's a high rise) with very pricey condos, right smack against the existing tracks, on the site of what used to be the old Graystone Hotel.  At some point the genius or his successors had to accept what a really stupid idea it was, and instead of four floors of lovely income-producing apartments, each one boasting a gorgeous view of Lake Toho, there are only 2 residential floors, and after all these years the occupancy rate is still low.  The remaining floors are all dedicated to commerce, and if I lived there I would be more than a little concerned.  With few exception, the vast majority of space is being used by social service agencies.  You know the old saying - if you have social service agencies, you're going to attract people who need social services - and while that hardly bothers me, some of those apartment/condo dwellers are gonna feel cheated.  Anyway, I blame it on the train.  The building is lovely, the nicest office I've ever had while working for the state.

There is a whole lot more to Osceola County than Disney. Old homesteads, older trees, cool architecture, interesting art work, really weird railroad crossings, fabulous lakefront.  I love it, I really do.                                                                                          

Khaki Sumo Wrestler in Front of Kissimmee City Hall

I can't take credit for the following recipe for this delicious Italian relish; all I did was adjust amounts because I was working with an ichiban eggplant from my garden, rather than a full sized globe eggplant.  THEE ichiban eggplant - the only one. The little Japanese eggplant weighed in at about 5 ounces, so what is printed here reflects that. I highly recommend that you check out THIS WEBSITE, known as Simply Recipes, where you will find the original recipe (which includes pine nuts!) plus a whole lot more.  If you like to cook, that is a very fine resource.

"Love grows where my rosemary goes."  My rosemary goes in the caponata.

My garden is doing some interesting stuff, and I am always more than happy to try a new recipe using produce I picked out of my yard a few minutes before.  That little eggplant was still warm from the sun when I snipped the stem and brought it into the kitchen, and me, being a city girl born and bred, was ridiculously thrilled by that.

Also, the two plants are now producing a whole bunch of little eggplants, and there are cherry tomatoes, a single plum tomato, and a jalapeño as well.  So I guess I really am Farmer Green Jeans.

Ichiban Caponata

1 Ichiban (Japanese) eggplant - about 5 oz., diced
kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 celery stalk, minced
1/4 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1-10 oz. can mild Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon small capers, drained
red pepper flakes, to taste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped basil (4 large leaves)

Toss the diced eggplant with about 2 teaspoons salt and put into a bowl.  Let this sit for 1 hour. Drain the eggplant, rinse with fresh water and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery, season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to soften - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes more. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Wipe the pan with a paper towel, turn the heat to high and add the remaining olive oil. Let this heat until the oil is nearly smoking. Add the eggplant and spread it out in as thin a layer as you can in the skillet. Let this sizzle for 1-2 minutes before stirring, then let it sit for a full minute before stirring again. Cook like this for 5-6 minutes.

Add the onion-celery mixture, the tomatoes, olives, capers and red pepper flakes. Stir well. Add the vinegar, sugar and tomato paste and stir once more. Cook, stirring occasionally until eggplant is very soft, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Mix in the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Caponata can be refrigerated, covered, up to 5 days.

My neighbors' sunflowers. We are a farm-to-camera neighborhood.