A couple of weeks ago I “celebrated” my birthday. It’s taken me all these years - of which there are many – to come to the realisation I’m not as clever as I thought I was!
Damn! I’d been living in a fool’s paradise. Did I come crashing down to earth with an almighty thud? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
Not literally did I hit the ground, but it felt like I did, and, even if figuratively, I was humiliated nonetheless. Clever I may not be, but I do have a vivid, wild imagination.
The actual factual padding on my butt protected me from an ungraceful, painful, phantom landing.
A friend of long-standing sent me a birthday card. Enclosed therein was a Scratch-It.
Throughout the years that have passed by since we first met in 1965 the exchange of cards is a practice she and I have conducted betwixt each other in recognition of our respective births...the inclusion of the Scratch-Its came into play when they came into play, whenever that was. I’m a bit scratchy about the time of their arrival on the scene.
My friend, Shirley, is the widow of my boss from my days -14 years in total- employed by The Kolotex Group of Company. For those years I’d been John’s (who was the Queensland manager of said Company) secretary, “2IC”, Office Manager, State Sales Coordinator and Credit Manager. My duties were varied...and interesting!
Shirley and I met shortly after I began working in the Queensland office. At the time of our first meeting, she was heavily-pregnant with their soon to be first-born son. A second son followed a couple of years later. I played a big role in the lives of the two boys. I was akin to being a very childish older sister to them...or a very childish aunt. The eldest son ended up being a member of my staff, for a few months, when I was managing the resort on Hinchinbrook Island.
Previously, a few times, I’ve written the above subject matter. I’ve many fond, happy and interesting memories; not just work-involved, but the friendships formed.
Now back to my dilemma of the other day....
“Scratch-It” is a perfect name for the pesky things...because I scratched my head for hours trying to solve the problem set by the one I received included in my birthday card. I felt like a goat trying to work out how to go about solving the problem at hand!
I seriously considered reaching out to ASIO and/or the CIA for their top code breakers to crack the code!
Golden Casket, Tatts or whomever is responsible for said Scratch-Its must be making a fortune from the annoying pieces of cardboard. If the rest are similar to the one I had, no prizes would ever be handed out!
Surely I can’t be the only person who takes forever to make sense of them – or, at least, some particular perplexing teasers...like the one over which I was ruminating!
Other folk must be like me...unable to solve some of the confounded enigmas – especially the tormentor I was gifted, anyway.
Or, is it just me? It very well could be...I suppose...
The $5.00 “Code Breaker” Scratch-It...that’s its name...”Code Breaker”...had me confused; completely beaten. “Breaker”! I was broken!
In surrender, I threw my hands and arms, with body still attached, up in the air.
Manically, I waved a white flag. I also yanked out my hair during the process. A number of choice, descriptive adjectives (read “expletives”) were uttered in pure, unadulterated frustration, too.
The particular Scratch-It – the subject of my ranting - deserves to be scratched! It’s the most convoluted, complicated, complex, labyrinthine, tortuous puzzle I’ve had the misfortune to encounter.
Amidst my hysteria as I battled tooth and nail to solve the problem before me I thought I might need to seek professional help – to solve the puzzle – (I probably do need professional help of another type, but that is a different matter entirely)!
Agitated and in a state of high anxiety, refraining from destroying the Scratch-It, I managed to control my frenzied mood. I put the annoying mystifier, and my frayed nerves aside, with the intention of tackling the baffling problem, fresh of mind, the following day. That is what I did.
After all the wasted energy and mental turmoil expended...the tossing and turning throughout the night...in the end...to add insult to injury...there was no resultant fortune to be collected!
Having eventually figured the muddle out, I discovered I’d won nothing - not a penny; not cent, nor a dollar....zilch!
I’d escaped a nervous breakdown by the enamel of my teeth!
Shirley and I did gain a good, hearty laugh about my tumultuous few hours when I described to her my Scratch-It frenzy during a phone conversation we shared.
Just wait until her next birthday comes around...in July!!! Payback can be lots of fun sometimes!!
Goat Cheese Poppers: Combine 1/3c plain flour and 1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper. Whisk together 1 large egg, 1/4tsp salt, and 2tbls water in a bowl. Combine 2/3rd cup panko breadcrumbs and 1/2tsp salt in another bowl. Roll 375g goat cheese into 24 balls. Roll balls in the flour; dip in egg; dredge in panko; freeze 20mins, or until firm. Fry, in batches, in hot oil over med-high heat, 1-2mins or until golden and crisp on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon; place on paper towels to drain. Arrange poppers on platter, drizzle with a little honey; sprinkle with finely chopped chives and a sprinkling of dried chilli.
Goat Cheese-Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms: Remove meat filling from 300g Italian sausages. Crumble in hands to break up the pieces; place in pan over high heat until fully cooked. Place cooked meat in bowl with 300g goat cheese, 1tbs dried rosemary, 1c chopped parsley and 1tsp red pepper flakes; add the warm meat; mix together; season to taste. Remove stems from15 medium button mushrooms; lightly season with salt, pepper and garlic powder; stuff with cheese mix. Sprinkle over some grated Parmesan; place on baking sheet; bake at 200C, approx 20mins. Set grill; cook mushroom tops until golden. Chop mild pickled capsicums/peppers; place in small pan with 3tbs balsamic over med-heat; simmer until vinegar has mostly evaporated; top mushrooms with pickled peppers; serve.
Goat Cheese Dip: Spray small baking dish. Combine 1tbs olive oil, 1c ricotta, 240g goat cheese. 3/4c crumbled fetta, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/4tsp salt, 1tsp lemon juice and 1/4c chopped fresh basil; stir in 120g cherry tomatoes (red & yellow); pour mixture into baking dish; top with another 120g cherry tomatoes. Bake, uncovered, 30-40mins, until slightly brown and bubbly. Serve with toasted bread or crackers.