Yu Xiaocao also braised the pig's feet and knuckle that she found in the kitchen. In her previous life, aside from the pig's head meat, the top 3 best-selling dishes of her braised food store also consisted of braised pig’s feet.
Not that she was boasting, but she had excellent control of the fire when braising the pig’s feet. With just one bite, one could feel the chewiness of the pig's skin and the soft, tender texture of the meat. Every mouthful was filled with flavor and it was a guarantee that whoever ate it once would definitely want to eat it again. As for the braised pig's knuckle, it glistened golden red, the bone was fragrant while the meat was tender and delicious. It was intact and the soup was thick but not greasy; the emperor emeritus would definitely like it!
Once she finished instructing the imperial kitchen staff to watch over the fire, Yu Xiaocao left, following behind the emperor emeritus. When she got back to Jingyang Palace, she saw the emperor and the empress smiling pleasantly. Seeing Yu Xiaocao, the empress waved for her to go over, then affectionately held her small hands. She said with a smile, “Xiaocao, you’re quite capable even though you’re very young! Not only do you know how to treat illnesses, you also have amazing culinary skills! Hanwen thoroughly enjoyed the porridge and small dishes that you made. Although there wasn’t a lot of porridge, there were still two bowls of it and I was afraid that he would stuff himself full, so I didn’t let him finish it all. When Hanwen ate the porridge, he said that his stomach felt warm and it was very comfortable as the slight pain in his abdomen also receded. This folk remedy is still quite effective even though it doesn’t use expensive herbs!”
Yu Xiaocao humbly replied, “The little prince is just sick of eating plain porridge. Purslane is just a type of common wild vegetable, and its texture and taste are also just so. However, a lot of wild vegetables also have some medicinal qualities. Many civilians who cannot afford a physician will counter the illness with these wild vegetables and herbs. Over time, they slowly became remedies for certain diseases.”
The empress smiled as she looked at her, feeling that although this little girl was young, she was tactful in the way she spoke and acted. So she became more sincere and affectionate towards Yu Xiaocao. Waking up from his afternoon nap, the young prince was more spirited and, after taking another three pieces of purslane candy, he eagerly asked Yu Xiaocao, “My tummy doesn’t hurt anymore, so does it mean I don’t have to drink that bitter medicine anymore?”
Yu Xiaocao nodded and spoke in a gentle voice, “It’s alright to not drink the bitter medicine, but I have to check your tummy…”
“Alright! You can check my tummy! I’ve really recovered, I don’t need to drink the medicine anymore!” The little prince also risked everything just so he could avoid drinking the bitter medicine.
Yu Xiaocao glanced at the empress. Once she got her approval, she lifted the little prince’s shirt to reveal his small, round belly. Inwardly, she came to an understanding with the little divine stone and placed the multicolored stone on her right wrist on the little prince’s lower abdomen. If someone else saw this, they would surely notice that the multicolored stone emitted a golden ray of light that slowly enveloped the little prince’s abdomen.
Yu Xiaocao pretended to check him as she pressed on a spot and asked him if it hurt, and pressed another spot a moment later and asked if he had the feeling of wanting to defecate...The little prince felt as though her touch was magic, as wherever she pressed, the discomfort of his abdomen would disappear, as if all of it was brought away by her small hands.
Only after the little divine stone used its power to treat the little prince did Yu Xiaocao say to the eager empress and young prince, “You’re almost completely recovered. Medicines are also part poison, so you can stop the intake of medicine. The medicinal diet will be enough for the next few days.”
At this time, the eunuch of Jingyang Palace reported the arrival of Su Ran and Royal Prince Yang. Zhu Junyang focused his gaze on Yu Xiaocao the moment he entered Jingyang Palace. Seeing that she was alright and even smiling, he nonchalantly shifted his gaze away.
After he greeted the empress, he gifted the bedridden young prince an automatic toy horse to relieve boredom. The toy horse was about the size of an adult’s palm, and inside it there was a mechanism that, after being wound up, enabled the little horse to walk by itself on a table. The new toy quickly gained the attention of the little prince as he played with it and laughed from time to time.
Su Ran brought with him a bag of dried razor clams. Once the empress saw that, she turned towards Yu Xiaocao and said apologetically, “Razor clam porridge...I still have to trouble you, Xiaocao.”
Yu Xiaocao hurriedly stood up and said, “It’s not a bother! However, the razor clam porridge will need some time to cook, so this commoner girl will take my leave first.”
Even though the empress was amiable towards her, living in a society where social class was extremely strict and facing the class with the authority to control the life and death of other people still made Yu Xiaocao uncomfortable. She would rather stay in the imperial kitchen and suffer the grease and smoke than converse another word with the empress.
Seeing Yu Xiaocao leave Jingyang Palace, Zhu Junyang also took his leave. With large steps, he caught up to Xiaocao who was being led by Xiazi to the imperial kitchen. Hesitantly, he said, “Actually...it’s alright if you don’t want to do it…”
Yu Xiaocao glanced at the astonished Xiazi, and then smiled at Zhu Junyang, “Don’t you know me? I like the process of cooking. When you were at Dongshan Village and ordered all those difficult dishes, didn’t I also try to make them for you too? I was born for a hardworking life, if you wanted me to sit idly, I would feel ill at ease. It was I who asked to help cook the little prince’s porridge.”
Zhu Junyang saw that there was not a trace of reluctance on her face and smiled, saying, “You dare mention that? In Dongshan Village, this prince ordered ten dishes but it’s already considered good enough if you made me two! Only you have the guts to fool me!”
Yu Xiaocao stuck out her tongue at him. Her eyes gleamed with mischief as she said, “This commoner girl was born into a farmer’s family, and only knows how to cook some common dishes. The sea cucumber and abalone dishes that you ordered all required expensive ingredients. Even if we caught them, we would rather sell them for money, how could we be willing to try them? Be smarter the next time and order some more ordinary dishes, only then can I guarantee to satisfy you!”
Xiazi looked even more astonished. ‘Who can tell me whether this man, who’s smiling and whose gaze is filled with affection and indulgence, is actually the cold royal prince who everyone in the capital shied away from? He wouldn’t have been possessed by something, right? Also, the little miss of the Yu Family, you don’t take the royal prince seriously, do you? You actually dared to use such a casual attitude to talk with the moody prince? Are you seeking an early death?’
The thing that made her jaw drop even more was that the cold Royal Prince’s expression was not cold at all. His face lit up with a smile and his voice was gentle as he said, “Alright! In the future, I will order only the dishes that you can cook!”
The moment they entered the imperial kitchen, Zhu Junyang could smell the strong fragrance of braised meat wafting in the air. “Xiaocao, you braised pig's head this afternoon? If so, I must find an excuse to stay, I want to eat the pig's ear strips with chili oil that you made.”
“You brat! The braised pig's head was requested by me, your grandfather—it’s all mine, don’t even try to snatch it from me!” Ever since the braised pig's head had gone into the pot, the emperor emeritus had been loitering around the imperial kitchen. When he smelled the fragrance, he could not help but come inside and have a look, but when he heard that Zhu Junyang was about to steal his pig's ears, he felt unhappy and began to protect his food.
However, Zhu Junyang was not afraid of his imperial grandfather, and immediately began to bicker, “Imperial Grandfather, it’s such a big pig’s head, can you finish it all? Aren’t there two pig's ears? You’re so generous, wouldn’t you give your grandson one?”
Zhu Huaiyong scrutinized his little grandson, feeling that he was different from before. Previously, he would only scowl and leave, how would he say these words that sounded like he was acting cute? Also, his cold gaze was comparatively livelier than before. Had his grandson’s illness been controlled? Which divine doctor was so skilled?
To avoid provoking his little grandson, the emperor emeritus made a pained expression and hardened his heart, “Alright! Seeing as you’re so well-behaved today, I’ll award you one pig’s ear…”
Zhu Junyang pressed on, “Imperial Grandfather, this grandson also likes to eat pig’s snout...”
“No! You can only have one pig’s ear. I won’t give any more! If you say any more, you won’t even get the pig’s ear!” The older the emperor emeritus was, the more childish he became. The attribute of protecting his food also increased in vigor with his age.
Yu Xiaocao saw that these two were fighting over a pig’s head until their faces turned red, so she hurriedly advised, “If you think one pig’s head isn’t enough, you can tell the imperial kitchen to prepare a few more pig’s heads. We can stew the meat in braising sauce overnight, so you can thoroughly enjoy your meal tomorrow. Although, the weather is quite warm nowadays, so the braised dishes shouldn’t be kept overnight. If you can’t finish it, just award it to others!”
The emperor emeritus was full of reluctance and mumbled, “I have an icehouse in my temporary imperial residence, if I can’t finish it, I’ll just keep it frozen there and reheat it whenever I feel like eating it! …Little girl, how long do you plan to stay in the capital? I want to eat vermicelli pork stew, chicken and mushroom stew, and northeastern mixed stew!”
In his previous life, Zhu Huaiyong was a true man from northeast China. Since his transmigration, he had rarely been able to eat authentic northeastern dishes and had missed them quite dearly. Even in his dreams, he dreamed of eating those northeastern signature dishes.
Yu Xiaocao thought about it, then said, “I will probably have to stay in the Imperial Palace for a few more days to ensure that the little prince is fully recovered before I can leave. For these few days, just tell the imperial kitchen to prepare the ingredients for the dishes that you, Emperor Emeritus, want to eat and I will make them for you. It’s just that, this commoner girl isn’t sure that my cooking will suit your taste.”
“Of course, it’s to my taste! With your skills in making braised pig’s heads, how can any of the dishes you cook be bad?” The emperor emeritus grinned and nodded. In his heart, he thought that he would stay in the Imperial Palace for these few days, so he gave the order to stay in Ningshou Palace tonight.
The old eunuch, who had served the emperor emeritus for decades, already knew the emperor emeritus’s thoughts. Inwardly, he said to himself: ‘Ever since the emperor emeritus abdicated his throne, he was either travelling and sightseeing, or he stayed in the temporary imperial residence in the outskirts of the capital; not one day did he stay in Ningshou Palace, which had been prepared for him for seven to eight years. Who could have thought that he would be willing to remain in the Imperial Palace for an ordinary meal? The allure of good food must not be underestimated ah!’
Yu Xiaocao began preparation to make the razor clam seafood porridge. The few old imperial cooks of the imperial kitchen shooed away those eunuchs who acted as assistant cooks and came up to her to assist her. They were obviously trying to covertly learn her recipes while watching from the side! However, Yu Xiaocao had not planned to keep the recipes of the seafood porridge, braised pig’s head and northeastern dishes to herself. She was only going to stay in the capital for a few days, and in her opinion, the emperor emeritus was quite interesting. He was intimate with the people and did not carry himself in a haughty manner. Thus, she was quite willing to leave the recipes of some of his favorite dishes to him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter