Sunday, February 14, 2010


My daughter seems to have a phobia of sirens. She is 6, and as far as I know (and I should know) she has never had a negative experience with them, and yet ...

One day the four of us were in a fast-food restaurant waiting to order when a vehicle drove past outside, sirens blaring. Jasmine looked wildly from side to side then bolted for the back door, despite both parents standing right next to her. We had to grab her to stop her running out into the car park. We found it a bit worrying, that she was so scared of the siren she ran away from us and potentially towards danger.

Then this weekend we were in the change rooms at the indoor pool after her swimming lesson, and an alarm went off. Not many people paid it any attention, but I had a hard time stopping Jasmine sprinting for the door. I was dressed enough to be decent, so I grabbed my bag and shoes and we left - she powerwalked (she knows she is not allowed to run near the pool) all the way through the complex and didn't even want to stand near the front doors once we got outside. Poor thing was trembling with fear. A fire engine arrived almost immediately, and we heard the staff tell the fire fighters that there was no fire, but she wasn't much comforted. Has she been drilled about fire safety too much at school?

Today she was playing Sims 3 when her character's oven caught fire and the house fire alarm went off. I only let her play Sims because there is no violence - I didn't know something like that could happen. Not that it would worry most kids. She leapt off her chair and came running to me, almost in tears, shaking and stressed. I tried to reassure her that it was just a computer game, I couldn't work out how to do anything to stop it but a fireman arrived and put out the oven.

I really don't know why she has this extreme reaction. At least she came running to me this time and not straight out of the front door!

So is it the threat of fire, or the loud noise itself? I am thinking it is the siren, as she is also scared of the air hand dryers in public toilets, she says they are too loud. A loud noise phobia?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Preserved Lemon Pants

Yesterday I learned not to open a difficult jar of juicy preserved lemon while wearing freshly cleaned clothes. You know how it is ... you can't open it any other way so you brace the jar between your thighs and use all your arm-muscle strength (such as it is) to wrench it open. And then lots of juice goes down your pants. At least preserved lemon juice smells rather nice.

I also learned that prawns, sambal olek (chilli paste), tomato and preserved lemon are an interesting combination for a pasta sauce. Odd. I'm not sure how much I liked it, but my husband said he did. He suggested it as a casual yet impressive dinner party entree. I do enjoy trying new recipes, but many are outright flops or are similar to but not quite as good as something you already make. This one was at least very different.

I think a real gourmet chef would be both impressed and horrified by my fridge and pantry. I have lots of fancy things like those mentioned above, jars of anchovies and capers and sundried tomato pesto, tins of crabmeat, garlic and ginger and olives and camembert and parmasen and pinenuts and seasalt and all that stuff. But also ultra-processed cheese and 2 minute noodles. And I think the fluffy orange cupcakes would be popular anywhere.

Speaking of which, one on-line gaming guild I was in used to call me 'cupcake' because I always seemed to be baking when I was chatting to them. Ahh ... teasing people half a world away with tales of rasperry muffins warm and fragrant from the oven, choc chip cookies still gooey in the centre, tart passionfruit curd in light pastry.

I wonder why I am a bit overweight.