First, Xiaocao stir-fried salt, pepper, and anise star. Next, she drained the water and cured the ducks with the stir-fried salt for two hours. During this time, she also heated up the braising sauce, and then marinated the ducks with the old braising sauce for another two hours. The last steps were to cook them and wait for them to cool down. If there was enough time, the time for curing and marinating in old braising sauce should be doubled!
Just as Yu Xiaocao, with the help of her eldest maternal aunt, was busily making the preparations, her eldest granduncle’s little eight year old grandson ran through the door panting and shouted, “Xiaocao! Second Uncle said your maternal uncles didn’t eat breakfast yet, so just make something simple to fill their stomachs first. They can have a more sumptuous meal in the evening!”
“Yu Zhou, how dare you call me ‘Xiaocao’? You should call me ‘older sister’, understand?” Xiaocao knocked on the kid’s forehead. Yu Zhou was the son of her oldest uncle from her eldest granduncle’s family. He had a strong and honest appearance, and looked rather cute.
Yu Zhou made a silly face at her and said reluctantly, “Aren’t you just a little over two months older than me? Look, you’re not even as tall as me. It’s so humiliating to call you ‘older sister’!”
“Even if I’m older than you by a day, you will still have to call me ‘older sister’! Are you going to say it or not? If you don’t, I’ll go tell Eldest Granduncle!” Yu Xiaocao teased him on purpose.
With a bitter expression on his little face, the little fellow glared at Xiaocao and shouted, “Tattletale!”
Xiaocao estimated that the duck liver and intestine being braised in the pot should be about ready, so she went into the kitchen and cut out a piece. As if she was teasing a little puppy, she grinned and said, “Come on, call ‘older sister’. If you call me ‘older sister’, you can eat this piece of duck liver ah!”
As soon as Yu Zhou entered the door, he had smelled the scent of braised meat. He inhaled deeply and couldn’t shift his eyes away from the piece of duck liver. He was about to drool as he asked, “Really? If I call you ‘older sister’, this piece of braised meat will be mine?”
Yu Xiaocao was inwardly laughing her head off. She had thought that this kid would have a strong backbone, but it seemed like he was also a little glutton. But, she couldn’t really blame him. It was already very fortunate that the villagers usually had enough to eat. There really weren’t many people who could eat meat dishes when it wasn’t some special holiday. It was no wonder that Yu Zhou longed for meat!
“Of course! When did this Older Sister ever go back on my words?” Yu Xiaocao stopped teasing him and looked at him sincerely.
Yu Zhou had long heard of his second uncle’s family’s braised food. He also often followed his father to the docks, so he had firsthand experience of the popularity of the one copper coin braised dish. In fact, one copper coin wasn’t very expensive, but his father was afraid that Xiaocao and her sister would refuse to accept their money. Thus, they had never bought it before.
He had pestered his father many times, but he had never succeeded. Usually, his father would strictly restrict him and his older brother from visiting Second Uncle’s house because he was afraid that they would arrive while his second uncle’s family was braising food. As a result, he wanted to have a taste of the braised food even in his dreams!
The little fellow was usually a child with a strong backbone, but his heart was slightly wavering in front of delicious food: ‘Wasn’t it just calling her older sister? Xiaocao is originally older than me, so there’s nothing shameful about that.’
With that thought in mind, he blurted out, “Older Sister, Older Sister Xiaocao! This… Is this your family’s one copper coin braised food? My father said your family doesn’t have it easy, so it’s best to save this to sell at the docks!”
Xiaocao saw that he kept swallowing his saliva and his eyes were reluctant to leave the duck liver in her hands, yet he still tried to resist his desire for tasty food. She sighed with emotion inwardly: ‘The kids in Eldest Granduncle’s family are quite sensible ah!’
“This duck liver was made for us to eat ourselves. Here, taste it for me! How is it?” Yu Xiaocao took a step forward and wanted to stuff the small piece of duck liver into his mouth.
The little fellow covered his mouth, retreated, and shook his head, “Older Sister Xiaocao, your family has guests today. It’s better to leave them for the guests to eat…”
“What a benevolent child!” Eldest Maternal Aunt laughed and praised as she kneaded the dough to make flatbread.
Yu Xiaocao said with a broad smile, “Alright! Don’t retreat anymore, or else you will step on our family’s vegetables! There’s still a lot of duck liver and duck gizzard in the pot, so it’s fine if you eat one!!”
As she spoke, she grabbed Yu Zhou’s arm and shoved the duck liver into his mouth.
Yu Zhou had no choice but to eat the piece of duck liver. The duck liver, which was braised with a special braising sauce, was soft and fragrant. That mellow fragrance lingered on the tip of his tongue for a long time. It was so delicious that he could not help but tremble.
“Older Sister Xiaocao, I heard that you were the one who came up with the idea of braised food! Your culinary skills are amazing!! I have never eaten something so delicious before.” Yu Zhou immediately became a loyal fan of Xiaocao’s cooking.
Xiaocao smiled. To be subdued with just a small piece of duck liver, he was indeed a little glutton, “Yu Zhou, help older sister with something. Go to the neighboring village’s Old Luo’s family and buy some tofu for me! I’ll treat you to something good later!”
“I can help you go buy the tofu, but you don’t have to treat me to a meal! Our family has already eaten breakfast!” The little foodie Yu Zhou took the two copper coins Xiaocao handed to him and skipped out of the front door.
Due to Xiaocao’s insistence, the Yu Family had changed their eating habits of eating two meals a day to eating three meals a day. She had already eaten breakfast, but she forgot that her maternal uncles still had the habit of eating two meals a day. It was almost nine in the morning now, so it was time to eat their morning meal!
It seemed like they had to save the salted duck for tonight. As a result, there would be more than enough time to salt the ducks, and it would also be more flavorful by then.
For the morning meal, Yu Xiaocao prepared to make ‘duck blood stewed with tofu’, ‘stir-fried mushrooms with greens’, ‘braised eggplant’, and ‘smashed cucumber salad’. The staple food was flatbread made with half coarse grain and half wheat flour. There was also a pot of tomato and egg soup.
After leaving behind a small plate of each dish, she and her eldest maternal aunt carried the food basket and pot, and walked valiantly to her family’s field.
Eldest Granduncle’s family’s farmland was closer to the village, so she had seen her eldest granduncle’s hale and hearty figure from afar. The old man was working hard in the fields with his eldest son, eldest grandson, and two daughters-in-law.
“Eldest Granduncle, have you eaten yet? Let’s eat together!” Yu Xiaocao was quite close to her eldest granduncle. She felt that her eldest granduncle’s family was very kind and compassionate.
Yu Lichun straightened his waist, stuck the hoe in the ground, and looked over cheerfully. He said, “We have eaten already! Xiaocao, are you bringing food over to your father and uncles?”
“Yes! Eldest Granduncle, Oldest Uncle, eat some more with us!” Yu Xiaocao smiled sincerely.
Oldest Paternal Uncle Yu Xi waved his hands at her and said with a smile, “No need! Quickly deliver the food to your father. Don’t starve the guests!”
Yu Xiaocao chatted briefly with her eldest granduncle before she picked up the basket again and walked towards her family’s farmland. It was true that ‘many hands made light work’! The four men and Madam Liu had already turned up more than half of their three plots of land. It looked like they would be able to finish in the afternoon.
“Father—Mother—Eldest Maternal Uncle, Second Maternal Uncle, Third Uncle, it’s time to eat!” Yu Xiaocao put the basket on the edge of the field and shouted with her hands around her mouth.
Wang Ergou and his wife was currently eating their meal beside the edge of the field. Wang Ergou sniffed and then looked at Xiaocao’s family’s food basket with a grin. He moved closer and asked, “Xiaocao, what tasty food did you make? It smells really good!”
Without waiting for Xiaocao to respond, his wife had twisted his ear and pulled him back. She yelled at him, “Are you a child? You actually have the shame to go ask for food? Even if you’re not ashamed, I am!”
When Wang Ergou was young, he was also a lazy, good-for-nothing loafer, who engaged in misdemeanors. Fortunately, he married a powerful wife. His wife was born in poverty and had strong self-esteem. She had gotten rid of most of Wang Ergou’s bad habits.
“It’s alright, Auntie Wang. I cooked a lot of food. Let’s eat together.” Yu Xiaocao offered.
Wang Ergou was overjoyed and was about to agree but his wife pinched him on his waist. Wang Ergou’s wife smiled at Xiaocao and said, “Xiaocao, we’re full already. Auntie is very grateful for your offer—Go, go down to the field! We need to finish plowing these two plots of land today…”
Yu Hai, who had arrived at the edge of the field, watched the pitiful-looking Wang Ergou being taken down to the fields to work by his wife. He couldn’t help but say, “Erguo’zi is blessed to have such a good wife…”
“Father, you’re also quite lucky ah!” Yu Xiaocao winked at Madam Liu’s direction.
Liu Pei chuckled and said, “That’s right! Isn’t it your good fortune to be able to marry my younger sister?”
Madam Liu’s face turned bright red from her older brother and her daughter’s teasing. She glared at them, and then quickly lowered her head to ladle the soup. Yu Hai, on the other hand, smiled and nodded incessantly, “Yes, that’s right. I have accumulated three lifetimes of good fortune to be able to marry Muyun!”
“Why are you acting like them?!!” Madam Liu’s face was brimming with love as she gave him a chiding gaze. After that, she looked towards the bowl of tomato and egg soup, which looked very appetizing with its red and white colors, and asked, “What’s this red thing? It’s not chili pepper, is it?”
“There were a few ripe tomatoes in our backyard, so I made a soup with them. It’s very refreshing. Everyone should try it!” The soup should be served before the meal. Yu Xiaocao helped distribute the bowls and chopsticks to everyone’s hand.
Yu Jiang moved closer and looked at the food basket. He was stunned, “What a sumptuous breakfast ah…”
Yu Xiaocao handed him a bowl of tomato and egg soup and gave him a pair of chopsticks. Yu Jiang didn’t know whether he should accept them or not, “I… I have already eaten…”
“Then eat a little more with us! It’s unreasonable to not provide a meal for you when you helped out with the work.” Eldest Aunt helped urge him. Yu Xiaocao also continued to persuade him.
The duck blood stewed with tofu had conquered everyone’s taste buds. The tofu was smooth and tender, while the duck blood was fresh and tasty. As for the braised duck giblets, the duck gizzard was very chewy, and the duck intestines were very delicious. The stir-fried mushrooms with greens had the perfect combination of colors, fragrance, and taste. It was very refreshing and had the perfect mouthfeel. With a thick sauce, the braised eggplant was glossy and flavorful… With the addition of the tomato and egg soup, which they had never eaten before, it was much more lavish than the meals that ordinary people served to their relatives.
“Hey! Didn’t we tell you guys to just make something simple? Why did you make so much food?” Liu Pei looked at his wife with slight anger, as if he was blaming her for not stopping Xiaocao. His younger sister’s family’s living conditions wasn’t very good.
Yu Xiaocao hastily said, “Eldest Uncle, all the ingredients were homegrown and gathered on the spot, except for the tofu, which cost two copper coins. You guys have worked hard in the fields, so, of course, you have to eat a good meal. Otherwise, how would you have enough strength to work?”
Yu Hai gave his two elder brothers-in-law a pancake each, and told his own younger cousin, “This duck blood stewed with tofu should be eaten while it’s still hot. Our Cao’er’s cooking is pretty good. I guarantee that you will want to eat another meal after eating this. Quickly eat! Everyone, quickly eat!”
The men cast away their inhibitions and began eating. They shouted fervent praises as they ate. Yu Hai also chimed in with the compliments, like he was Old Wang selling melons—praising his own products. Yu Xiaocao was embarrassed by their praises. She smiled and said, “Father, I’m worried about Older Brother being home alone, so I’ll go back first. Just leave the bowls and chopsticks here. I’ll come get them later.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Food here! lol Can I also get some food if I call Xiaocao 'Older Sister'?😋