After a great amount of effort, they were finally able to convince Yu Caifeng. Liu Junping was very sensible and stayed at home to take care of his father. Although the doctor had already reassured them that Liu Hu’s illness was no longer a big deal, he still needed someone at his side. Liu Junping volunteered himself to take on that task.
Yu Hai took his older sister’s entire family to a nearby little restaurant and ordered a few dishes. Most of the dishes were vegetarian. When Yu Caifeng saw that most of the food had been cooked with a decent amount of oil, she felt bad at the thought of the amount of money that had to be spent on this meal.
Yu Xiaocao gave both Liu Yaner and Little Fangping half a bowl of thick rice congee and grinned, “Older Cousin, Xiaoping, first drink some congee to prep the stomach. When we get back to Dongshan Village, I’ll make some more delicious food for you guys.”
Sips of the thick and fragrant rice congee warmed the belly. Little Fangping alternated between a mouthful of congee and a mouthful of eggs. He marveled that there couldn’t be food that was more delicious than this. A content expression surfaced on his face as he said, “Older Cousin, this food is already very good. Is the food you make even better than this?”
Yu Hai hadn’t eaten much food as he was preoccupied with adding food to his sister’s plate. When he heard the boy’s question, he laughed, “Xiaoping, did you not know? Your Older Sister Xiaocao’s culinary skills are famous around here. Even the head chef of Zhenxiu Restaurant complimented her before!”
The woman who owned this little restaurant sneered when she heard Yu Hai’s words. She silently thought, ‘This family loves to boast. The head chef of Zhenxiu Restaurant has standards. How could he possibly value this little brat’s cooking abilities? If you have to brag, why don’t choose something more outrageous, like claiming that your family came up with Zhenxiu Restaurant’s recipe for their roasted chicken and salt-brined duck, eh?’
Lady, you actually hit upon the truth there!
Yu Caifeng looked at the table full of food and remarked in an embarrassed tone, “Xiaohai, you really spent too much money. What’s the point of ordering so much food for such a small group of people? If we can’t finish it, it’ll all be wasted!”
Yu Hai looked at his older sister, who had become so thin that her face looked like it was about to disappear. A wave of melancholy flooded him as he gave his older sister another serving of shredded meat stir-fried with tofu, “Older Sister, eat more! When we get back home, your niece will help you nourish your body.”
Xiaocao grasped this opportunity to explain, “Oldest Aunt, right now it’s not a good idea for you and my cousins to eat anything too greasy, so we only ordered some light dishes. Just eat this food for now. Once your stomachs are more healthy, I can make anything you guys want to eat!”
The owner of the restaurant sneered somewhat unhappily and muttered under her breath, “This little kid really loves to boast! Her father doesn’t even bother to correct her when she claims that she’ll make anything they want to eat. Can she make roasted chicken? What about osmanthus duck? They can’t afford to order meat dishes yet she still has to make it sound so nice.”
Although the woman’s voice was very quiet, Yu Xiaocao had been nourished with the mystic-stone water for over a year. Her five senses were naturally more sharp than a normal person’s, so she was able to hear the manager’s grumbles. Xiaocao raised an eyebrow and knowingly looked the older woman in the eye. The woman was startled by her actions and shrunk down a bit as she thought, ‘This little girl could hear what I said even though I said it so quietly. However, does it matter that she could hear me? Everything I said was the truth!’
Yu Xiaocao naturally wouldn’t lower herself to argue with the woman. The whole group finished the meal and also bought some takeout wrapped in waxed paper to feed Liu Junping. In addition, they also bought some white rice, vegetables, meat, and a fat hen at the market before they finally returned back to the Yu Family’s town residence.
After taking some medication, Liu Hu had quickly fallen asleep. Yu Xiaocao gave the food to Liu Junping to eat before she went into the kitchen to cook a thick and nourishing pot of chicken congee. The tantalizing smell of chicken congee wafted through the courtyard and tempted Little Fangping, who had just eaten his fill. The little boy swallowed down the saliva pooling in his mouth as his eyes wandered back to the kitchen from time to time.
When Liu Hu woke up from his nap, a bowl full of nourishing chicken congee was placed in front of him. The translucent grains of rice had already melted into a thick porridge. Shreds of chicken meat dotted the contents of the bowl and the whole thing was garnished with a handful of thinly chopped green onions. The whole bowl looked incredibly appetizing and, when combined with the delicious smell, roused the appetite of someone who wasn’t even hungry.
Yu Caifeng silently swallowed down the saliva that had flooded her mouth and took the bowl of congee from her niece’s hands. She scooped up a portion and carefully blew on the spoon to cool the contents down before she fed her husband. Little Fangping crawled onto the kang bed and stared piteously at the congee bowl. Liu Yaner lowered her head out of desperation as she tried to ignore her desire to eat the food. Only Liu Junping, who had just eaten, was able to calmly watch his father eat congee with a smile on his face.
After eating a few bites of the delectable, savory chicken congee, Liu Hu looked at his youngest son, who was staring at the bowl with pitiful eyes. He raised a hand to rub the little boy’s head and said, “I’ve eaten enough, you guys should finish the rest…”
Liu Fangping hurriedly shook his head like a rattle, “Father, you should finish it so you can get better faster. I ate scrambled eggs and a large bowl of rice porridge for lunch, so I’m very full! Quickly eat more!”
Liu Hu had a tender heart. Ever since Yu Caifeng had married over, he always saved the best food for his wife to eat. After they had children, he always gave the best food and items to his wife and kids while he gladly partook his own plain meals. This was also the reason why Yu Caifeng later on ended up loving him to the high heavens. Naturally, with this delectable chicken congee in front of him, no matter what anyone else said, he refused to enjoy it alone.
Yu Xiaocao finally ended this stalemate with a word, “I made a whole pot of this congee, so there’s more than enough for our whole family to eat! Xiaoping, Older Sister Yaner, let’s go to the kitchen and grab a portion for everyone to enjoy!”
Liu Fangping cheerfully jumped off the kang bed after hearing Xiaocao’s suggestion. He sloppily put on his shoes and scampered behind Xiaocao as they exited the room, as if he was her little tail blindly following along.
Liu Hu only finished his bowl of food after six bowls of porridge appeared in front of him. Xiaocao had added a few drops of mystic-stone water to the congee, so after Liu Hu ate his bowl, his whole body felt comfortably warm. All of the heaviness left him and his body became light and energetic.
While the Yu Family was enjoying their happy family reunion together, the young royal prince, Zhu Junyang, was unable to spend time with his mother, who had been eagerly anticipating his arrival in Tanggu Town. Instead, he had just gotten to the capital with a train of a hundred-so carts all piled high with goods and was covered in dust from his travels.
The emperor summoned him to the throne room. The seventeen year old young royal prince elaborated on his travels and what he had seen while he was in the throne room that was crowded with literary and military officials. The group of officials listened avidly to his stories that sounded fantastical. From time to time, some people let out a few soft cries of astonishment. When the emperor summoned the foreign artisans that the royal prince had brought back with him to the room, all of the officials stared at these people, who had blond hair and blue eyes, as if they were monsters. All of their eyes were opened wide in shock and their mouths gaped open.
Although Jianwen Emperor had also traveled the seas and brought back sweet potato plants before he ascended the throne, he had never brought back any foreigners who had red hair and green eyes back. It was no wonder that all of these officials were shocked.
“Ah Junyang! We told you to find some novel crops. How did that go?” Drought had plagued the north this year and there were starving migrants roaming everywhere. Jianwen Emperor had been very worried. If they were able to get their hands on corn and potatoes, two high-yielding crops, then everyone in the future would have enough staple food to eat. Future disasters would also not be as bad!
In front of the emperor, Zhu Junyang still had his usual stony cold expression. He replied confidently, “Your Imperial Majesty, this official has succeeded!”
The emperor’s eyes lit up, and he leaned slightly forward on the dragon throne. He somewhat impatiently said, “Ah? Then bring it here, we need to see this!”
Before long, a small bag of corn and a few potatoes had been presented to the emperor. Jianwen Emperor descended from the dragon throne and scooped up a handful of golden corn. He lightly felt the kernels and then picked up a potato to inspect. A nostalgic expression surfaced on his face. His favorite dish in college was sauteed spicy and sour shredded potatoes. He hadn’t eaten any for a few decades and he really missed it! He used all of his willpower to suppress his desire to send these potatoes to the imperial kitchens. These potatoes were seeds ah. He must endure now so that in the future he would have more potatoes than he could devour!
“Very good! Very good!” The emperor was quite pleased as he lavished compliments, “Quickly bring all of this to the Ministry of Revenue. They need to start planting corn and potatoes as soon as possible…”
The Minister of Revenue, who had been called over, stared at the two foreign plants in front of him. He hesitated for a moment before he said, “Your Majesty, do we have any methods on how to plant these correctly?”
How should corn and potato be planted? Jianwen Emperor was an engineering student who specialized in shipbuilding in his past life. He had grown up in a city. This question truly stumped him. Zhu Junfan, the emperor, looked at the person who had brought over the two plants, Zhu Junyang. Zhu Junyang’s eyes twitched. The original agreement only stated that he had to find the two plants and didn’t mention that he had to plant them, okay? He pasted on an inscrutable expression, which wasn’t consistent with his youthful age, and replied emotionlessly, “This official is also helpless!”
Zhu Junfan felt deflated by his younger cousin’s answer. Why was this brat so self-confident? What was the point of going on this arduous journey to find the plants if you didn't find out how to cultivate them?
Zhu Junfan glared at him and then pondered for a bit. A crafty smile crept onto his face that made Zhu Junyang have a bad premonition.
“Junyang ah, since you were the one who traveled afar, you’re the one who has the most experience with corn and potatoes. You probably know more than the officials in the Ministry of Revenue. We have decided that you will assist these officials in cultivating these two plants! Do you have any objections?”
The emperor finally broke through Zhu Junyang’s poker face. The prince faintly frowned yet his voice remained calm when he replied, “Emperor, is this a decree or are you asking for my opinion?”
Zhu Junfan naturally wouldn’t give him any chance to evade this duty. The emperor solemnly decreed, “This is our order! Naturally, we also hope that you will gladly take on this burden. Just think of the day when all of the people will be able to eat to their fill. They will all be grateful for your benevolence and favor…”
‘The people’s gratitude? Whoever wants that can take it! You already told me this is a direct order, how can I possibly refuse?’ Zhu Junyang looked at the emperor expressionlessly. Although he was truly unwilling in his heart, he still had to take on this duty ah!
After he left the palace, Zhu Junyang had been invited over to the Ministry of Revenue. All of the officials stared at the youthful royal prince with anticipation in their eyes. The Minister of Revenue, whose beard and hair had long gone white, could apparently tell that the prince was displeased. He rubbed his hands together before he cautiously opened, “Royal Prince Yang, it’s almost the perfect season for planting now. What do you think is the best way to plant corn and potato?”
‘You can ask me, but who can I ask? Bah!!’ Zhu Junyang had no idea what he could do at this point. He raised his head to look at the group of officials and coldly replied, “Planting seeds should all be the same! You all...do what you see fit!”
After he finished, the ruthless and handsome young royal prince turned around, under the eyes of all of the officials in the Ministry of Revenue, and left...left...he left…Previous Chapter Next Chapter