As we’re heading into the final stretch of the year, as I’m hitting the final weeks of my pregnancy, I realized I’ve been feeling different for the last few days. As I’m counting down the days to week 39, I suddenly wondered whether I’d spent enough time enjoying my pregnancy.
It’s a funny thing. I’ve been extremely blessed to have a relatively problem-free pregnancy. Of course I’ve suffered an expected myriad of discomforts and side effects, all conveniently explained away as “commonly experienced during pregnancy”, but none particularly bothersome or debilitating. It got to the point where when I was asked by people, “How are you feeling?” I started wondering if they were actually prodding for some tales of suffering. Shouldn’t I be complaining about swollen feet or sleepless nights or wacky mood swings? I suppose I just try to be a positive thinker – and I didn’t really think my friends wanted to be around a complaining pregnant lady.
Since I had so few troubles it was easy to just be “normal” and carry on. Without real physical ills to sideline me, I focused more on the cerebral aspects of pregnancy: scheduling appointments, figuring out insurance, buying nursery things, trying to accomplish projects, wondering how my life would change after the baby came. I imagine in that respect I’m probably like many first-time moms, so focused on what my life would become that it was hard to just to be. I was either trying to prepare for life with a baby, or trying to make the most of time left as a couple with hubby. I didn’t really spend that much time just contemplating being pregnant: if I wasn’t feeling nauseous or achy or sleepy, it meant I could go on doing what I needed to do.
Before I got pregnant I used to think pregnancy was just what you had to endure to get a baby. Who actually enjoyed being pregnant? It’s practically a competition these days to compare who had the worst pregnancy symptoms, something that actually dampened my desire to experience it for a while. So I guess it’s a little surprising, and ironic, that at the very end, all of a sudden I’m getting all existential about my physical condition. Pretty soon I won’t be pregnant any more. I don’t know if I’ll be pregnant again in the future. And just like that these days become that much more precious. I guess the pregnancy feel-good hormones finally kicked in!
I wouldn’t exactly say I’m eager to go through pregnancy again (I’d really like to fit into my old clothes again, please, and be able to jump out of bed instead of rolling off), but I’m glad that I was able to recognize it as a singular experience of my life, before it’s over. Now I understand why my mother and other female relatives in my life look at me with that sort of wistful joy, remembering when they were carrying their own babies.
I’m sure end-of-year nostalgia is playing a part as well. How is December flying by so quickly? When I found out I was pregnant, I remember thinking, “I’m going to be pregnant for the rest of the year,” and it seemed like such a long time to be pregnant. Now it’s here, and I don’t know how time passed so fast.
The holiday parties I’m going to carry an extra fillip of poignancy too, of course, since I obviously won’t be partying very hard in the new year! I made these little tarts for one of the parties I’m going to – it’s another adaptation of my favorite fruit curd tart, this time with some very Christmas-y cranberries.
Cranberries take to being turned into curd very well: the eggs and sugar temper their tartness nicely, and I love the vibrant red color of the curd. Since I’m all for quick-assembly desserts for parties, the crust is a press-in style made from gingersnaps, another holiday favorite. While you can use your favorite store brand, there’s also this lovely recipe if you’d like to make your own (and how can you have too many cookies during the holidays?) The spiciness of the cookies makes a great frame to the lush fruitiness of the curd. And it really couldn’t be simpler to put together, leaving me more time to enjoy these last days of the year.
(note: after I made these tartlets I discovered that Not Without Salt had done something similar a while back. See her version here!)
Hope you’re all enjoying your holidays, and don’t forget to enter the minted giveaway – just a few days left!
Cranberry Curd Tarts
- 8 oz (227 g) fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup (118 g) water
- 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces
- 8 oz (227 g) gingersnaps, either store bought or use this recipe
- 2 oz (57 g) unsalted butter, melted
For the curd:
- Combine cranberries and water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until cranberries have burst.
- Process cranberries in food processor until smooth (don't worry, you can strain out the bits of skin later); or you can puree in a food mill.
- Create a water bath by placing a saucepan of water over heat to simmer. Whisk together the sugar and eggs in a metal bowl. Whisk in the cranberry puree, lemon juice, and salt.
- Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom does not touch the water. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until the curd reaches 180 degrees and thickens. Keep whisking while the mixture is heating up to prevent the eggs from cooking.
- Take the curd off the heat and strain it into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Let the curd rest for a bit until it cools to about 140 degrees.
- Add in the butter pieces a few at the time and combine on high speed. Once all of the butter has been added, let the mixture combine for a few minutes longer to ensure the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- Pour curd into a container and let it chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour before assembly.
For the crust:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Process cookies in food processor until they are finely ground.
- Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press mixture into bottom and sides of a 12-square mini tart pan, or a 9 in round tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for about 10 minutes until dark brown and firm. Remove and let cool.
- When you are ready to serve, fill the tart shells with the cranberry curd.