I’m told this is the sweet spot.

By the time you’ve got something the size of a large grapefruit hitching a ride inside, the energy comes back- that zeal and zip for life that ebbed away for the first few months. Now you finally look pregnant enough for kindly people to stand for you on public transport- but not so much that people widen their eyes in worry. And it’s safe enough to start thinking about logistics.

Occasionally you’ll need to contemplate issues like; where is this munchkin going to sleep? (Still working on that one). What’s it going to wear? (Suits with enclosed feet being one gem from my three-kid-wise older sister. Sure, baby socks are cute, but less so when you can only find one of them). Oh, and not red tracksuits. Turns out The Hungry One is still mildly traumatised by being sent to pre school in a fire engine red one with a clown on it and patches on the elbows.

This was the week in which I succumbed and bought the first thing for the Stowaway. Well, for his Dad to give to him. It’s the exact replica of some ridiculously large dumb bells which used to live under our couch in Sydney.

I had a sweet, tingly sort of glee in my extremities when I first bought it. I thought it was excitement.

Turns out,  not quite. There’s a new bittersweet twist. In this now extended week by week, blow by blow ode of my travails in producing life, the pins and needles are a new guest to the party. Largely in my hands, they like to come out at night. They arrive at 11 pm, just after I’ve finished making my mental list of  a) good things that happened today (lovely coffee, good meeting, walk in the sunshine, finally eradicated the earworm of ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’  and b) what I have to do tomorrow.

They tinker around like an unwanted poltergeist for most of the evening, plucking me out of sleep, forcing me to knock water bottles to the floor with arms more dead than those on the receiving end of a Chinese burn from the bully at the back of the 603 bus home from school in 1991. The first night they were kind of curious and funny. The second, not so much. Half a week on and I’m ready to shunt them back to where they came from.

So tomorrow there’s going to be a new thing on that to do list- buy fetching wrist splints to wear to bed, to stop me tucking my hands up underneath me like a nesting marsupial and further hindering blood from flowing properly while I sleep.

And then there’s the other thing I know I should do. I need to cut back on the salt. I pooh poohed both my mother and the midwife on that one initially, but at this point, I’ll try anything.

So it’s time to say a short adieu to some of those delicious, fat flakes of solidified sea which I sprinkle on avocado on toast, lovingly employ to encourage disparate flavours to meld and have, on occasion, been known to dip a finger into.

So this week, both in recipes and indulgences I’m going back to the sweet side.

I’m greatly encouraged by the fact that once upon a time some Scandinavians released a study claiming that a bit of dark chocolate each day in pregnant women made for happier babies (I don’t lie). So during this celebration of the bittersweet appeal of grapefruits, I turned to a dark friend for help.

These crumbly chocolate cookies are exactly the sort of thing you want to eat while sipping a cup of anti inflammatory camomile tea (or perhaps a glass of milk) and clicking through Hauzz pinboards of nursery furniture. They’re a breeze to pull together and bake- or even even better; stash half of the batter rolled into a cylinder in your freezer to pull out for emergency cookies (or as a thank you present for kind friends who leave lovely Amazon reviews of your book).

You could keep them plain chocolate, just dusting the sliced cookies in powdered sugar just before baking so they get their distinctive ‘crackle’ appearance. They’d also be downright elegant with a few fat flakes of salt sitting on top (oh, let a woman dream).

But if you need to get your zip and zing elsewhere these days, you could always candy some strips of grapefruit peel and use their sweet and stinging acidity for some strident cut through.

Whichever way you do it, you can be sure that chocolate cookies make for happy people. And happy people, hopefully make happy babies. And I guess that’s the real sweet spot I should really be aiming for.

Though in all seriousness- any other hints and tips about the pins and needles- or essential nursery furniture for that matter-are gratefully accepted.

Candied Grapefruit Peel

Shopping/foraging

1 grapefruit
1.5 cups of sugar
1.5 cups of water

Here’s how we roll

1) Trace an equator around the grapefruit with your knife- cutting just into the pith, not all the way across the fruit. Repeat five more times until you have divided the grapefruit skin into segments. Now remove the peel and set aside.

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2) Use the flat of your knife to carefully skim as much of the bitter white pith as possible.

 

3) Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and swirl gently so the sugar dissolves.

4) Cut the peel into slivers, about 5 mm thick and place in the simmering sugar syrup for 1.5 hours and the strips have turned translucent.

5) Allow the peel to cool in the syrup. Drain the peel, either discarding the syrup, or saving for cocktails (it goes very well with anything gin or Campari based. It’s also great for glazing lemon or orange cakes).

 Candied Grapefruit Peel and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Makes 22-24 cookies

Equipment

1 baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper. 1 microwave safe bowl, or bain marie. Foil or greaseproof paper.

Shopping/foraging

100 grams/3.5 oz of  dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100 grams/ 3.5 oz unsalted butter
150 grams/ 5.3 oz light brown muscavado sugar (can substitute with half brown sugar, half caster)
1 egg, beaten
175 grams/6 oz of self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon of bicarb soda
2 tbsp icing/ powdered sugar
Candied zest of half a grapefruit (optional)
Sea salt flakes (optional)

Here’s how we roll

1) Melt the chocolate, either in short bursts in the microwave, stirring well between each 20 second blast, or in a bain marie (a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water should do it).

2) Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the butter, allowing it to melt and form a glossy puddle.

3) Allow the mixture to cool for a couple of minutes, then add the beaten egg and the sugar. Stir to combine.

4) Sift in the self raising flour and the bicarb soda.

5) Stir to combine.

6) Roll out two lengths of greaseproof paper or foil. Divide the mixture into two and form a sausage on each rectangle of paper, about 4 cm in diameter.

7) Roll up tightly like a Christmas cracker, twirling the ends to create a firm cylinder. Place in the fridge to solidify for 30 minutes (you can stash one roll in the fridge or freezer for quick-bake cookies for later on if you fancy).

9) Preheat the oven to 200 C/392 F. Unwrap the log of cookie dough and slice into coins about 1 cm thick (this will help ensure a consistent sized cookie). Dunk the cookies in a small bowl with the icing sugar, carefully turning so they coat both sides.  Return to the baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leaving at least 3 cm in between each cookie.

10) Place a strip of candied grapefruit peel on as many of the cookies as you fancy.

11) Bake for 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking tray for 1-2 minutes, until they are cool enough to handle transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Forty Weeks of Feasting

Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far.

Week 22 Roast Carrot and Hummus Soup. Recipe here.

Week 21. Spiced Pomegranate Meatballs with Mint and White Beans. Recipe here.

Week 20 Banana Berry Flax Muffins. Recipe here.

Week 19 Mango Pudding. Recipe here

 

Week 18 Sweet Potato, Red Onion and Feta Pie. Recipe here

 

Week 17 Red Pepper, Chicken, Onion and Date Tagine. Recipe here.

 

Week 16 Avocado Mint Salsa with Pea and Mozzarella Quesadillas. Recipe here.

 

Week 15 Orange, Polenta and Rosemary Cake. Recipe here.

 

Wk 14 Lemon Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Pasta. Recipe here

 

Wk 13 Clementine/Mandarin Curd. Recipe here.

Wk 12 Plum and tomato tartines. Recipe here

 

Wk 11 Sprout and mushroom gratin (in which we come out of the closet). Recipe here

Wk 10 Date tart. Recipe here

Wk 9 Roasted grapes with baby chickens. Recipe here.

 

Wk 8 Raspberries and elderflower spritz. Recipe here.

 

Wk 7 Blueberry pancakes. Recipe here

Wk 6 Lentil and ginger soup. Recipe here

Wk 5 Sesame Miso Crisps. Recipe here

Wk 4 Poppy seed scrolled loaf. Recipe here.