Chapter 61 - Awake

In the eyes of outsiders, ever since Yu Hai got injured, there seemed to be a lot of ups and downs with his situation. Over the past few days, he had been suffering from a low fever. At times, his fever would be so high that the heat would scald the hand. Except for the people of the second branch, the rest of the Yu Family all felt that he wouldn’t be able to survive this hurdle! However, on the sixth day, Yu Hai finally woke up from his coma.  

Within the Yu Family, Old Yu and the second branch were probably the only ones who were genuinely happy for him. Yu Caidie, who had a soft temperament and never interfered with other people’s affairs, might had also been sincerely happy for him.

“Grandfather, my father hasn’t eaten anything in five days. I’ll go make a bowl of noodles for him!” Although her father had survived on the mystic-stone water these past few days, eating food was naturally more beneficial for the recovery of his wound.

Old Yu nodded and said, “Alright, cook two fried eggs for your father, too. It’s good that he’s awake. Our ancestors have blessed and protected him… I’ll have Dashan to go to town tomorrow morning and ask Doctor Sun to come check if Dahai is out of danger now!”

Madam Zhang glared at him and wanted to say something, but she held back her words with the thought, ‘For the sake of the three hundred taels, I’ll tolerate it!’

“Okay! Thank you, Grandfather!” Yu Xiaocao loudly replied with a smile on her face. The crude grain pancake and bean paste soup that they ate for breakfast seriously wasn’t something that humans should eat! Since her grandfather had agreed, she mixed the wheat flour with two handfuls of bean flour and made a little more noodles so that her family could also eat something special.

“Mother, I want to eat a fried egg too…” The fat son of the first branch, who was so obese that his eyes were nearly squished together, shouted as he threw the pancake in hands.

Madam Li was so angry that she slapped him, “Eat, eat, eat! Aren’t you afraid of dying from overeating!”

Yu Xiaocao held the pancake that she received in her arms and swiftly finished the disgusting bean paste soup with her nose pinched. After that, she pulled Xiaolian into the kitchen.

Little Shitou copied her and quickly finished his bowl of bean paste soup, which had a burnt taste, and then exclaimed, “I’ll go help heat the pot!”

After Yu Xiaocao looked through the kitchen, she realized that there was hardly any food except for a few dried up radishes, half a bag of bean flour, and a large bag of sweet potato flour. She briefly thought about it, and then asked Xiaolian, “Do we still have any dried vegetables at home?”

Xiaolian pondered briefly and asked, “We have some sun-dried sweet potato leaves and radish leaves, will they do?”

“Let’s use the sweet potato leaves then!” Yu Xiaocao shrugged her shoulders, as if she didn’t expect much from the ingredients, “Xiaolian, let’s make the noodles with a mixture of wheat flour and bean flour!”

“Second Sister makes the tastiest foods! But, our family is usually reluctant about using wheat flour. If we use too much, Grandmother will scold us again!”

Little Shitou was extremely confident in his second sister’s culinary skills. He had also accepted Xiaocao’s story about ‘taking a tour in hell’ and promised to keep it a secret for her. While his second sister was loitering in the underworld, she had unexpectedly won the favor of the God of Fortune and was taught the skills of cooking and money-making. Was this considered a blessing in disguise?

Yu Xiaocao was very skilled in making bean noodles. In her previous life, she and her siblings had experienced a long period of hardship after her parents passed away in a car accident. Thus, she had already developed the ability to make delicious meals with simple ingredients.

Yu Xiaocao smiled as she pinched Little Shitou’s nose and said, “Rest assured! It doesn’t need a lot of wheat flour. Moreover, we’ll be able to get a little benefit from this!”

As she spoke, she soaked the dried sweet potato leaves in the water in order to soften them before putting them in the pot of noodles. Afterwards, she skillfully took out less than half a ladle of bean flour, and then she took out a large bowl of wheat flour from the basket hanging on the beam. There wasn’t much wheat flour within the basket, so nearly half of it was gone after she took out this bowl of flour. 

Xiaolian’s eyes widened and exclaimed in alarm, “How can we use so much flour for a bowl of noodles? If Grandmother sees this, she’ll start scolding us again…”

“Just let her! No matter how well we do, she will always find ways to pick on us. If she wants to scold us, then just let her. We can just pretend to not hear her!” Xiaocao poured some mystic-stone water into the basin and mixed it with the bean flour and wheat flour.

Yu Xiaolian looked at her younger sister skillfully kneading and rolling the dough. Her culinary skills were even better that their mother. After a while, Xiaocao had already rolled the dough into a large flattened circle, sprinkled some bean flour on it to prevent it from sticking together, and said without even lifting her head, “The noodles can’t be too thin. If the noodles are too thin, then they will easily jumble together and turn into paste!”

She cut the dough into even strands of noodles. The bean noodles shouldn’t be cut into strands that were too wide, but it should be a thickness that was suitable for eating. It would be better to cook the noodles until they had a soft and chewy texture. The only thing that didn’t really matter was the length of the noodles.

“Second Sister, it looks really delicious!” Little Shitou excitedly looked at the noodles, which were all nearly the same thickness and had a pale-yellow color. He couldn’t help but swallow his saliva as he looked at each strand of bean noodles.

Yu Xiaocao pinched the little fellow’s cheeks, leaving white wheat flour stains on his face. She smiled lightly and bowed her head to cut the scallion and dried vegetables that had been soaked.

She glanced at the basket, which held the wheat flour, and found a fat piece of bacon inside. Thus, she took it down on her own initiative and rubbed it on the hot iron pan. A layer of oil immediately formed in the pan.

Xiaocao put the cured meat, which appeared unchanged, back in the basket and asked Xiaolian to hang it back on the beam. After that, she quickly stir-fried the chopped scallions and dried vegetables, and then added some salt in it.

When the chopped scallions were cooked in lard, it exuded an alluring fragrance. Little Shitou inhaled a deep breath of the aroma and smacked his lips, “It smells so good that I’m about to drool!”

Since the dumplings that they had eaten during the New Year, the Yu Family’s meals had only consisted of coarse grain. Not only were the meals unfulfilling, but there also wasn’t even a trace of oil in them. For Little Shitou who had secretly improved his meals from time to time before the New Year, he was already very happy to be able to eat some noodles made from a mixture of bean flour and wheat flour.

Madam Zhang, who was basking in the sun in the yard after breakfast, smelled the scent of lard and rushed into the kitchen. She swiftly took down the basket, carefully inspected the palm-sized bacon, and glanced in the pot. When she didn’t find anything wrong, she purposely shouted, “Do you need to make so much noodles for a bowl of noodles? You bunch of spendthrifts are going to deplete all our family’s resources!”

Xiaocao pointed at the bean noodles on the chopping board and said, “It’s my first time making noodles, so I didn’t get a good grasp of the quantity. But I made the noodles with half bean flour and half wheat flour. So, I didn’t use a lot of the wheat flour!”

Madam Zhang picked up the small bag of flour and saw that there was still some wheat flour inside. Moreover, the noodles were yellow and smelled like beans, so she grumbled as she put the basket back and left.

When the water in the pot boiled, Yu Xiaocao scattered the noodles into the pot and cracked two eggs inside. She covered the pot with the lid and simmered it on low heat for a while. It was ready to be served when the noodles became soft and sticky.  

Yu Xiaolian and Little Shitou looked at each other. Little Shitou couldn’t bear to look at the soggy noodles and asked in a low voice, “Is it slightly overcooked?”  

Xiaocao filled a bowl for the little guy, and then suggested with a smile, “Try it. How’s your sister’s cooking?”

Little Shitou blew on the noodles and took in a mouthful. He dark eyes instantly lit up as he chewed it in his mouth. In spite of the heat, he swiftly ate another mouthful. While he ate, he also mumbled words of praise, “Delicious! It’s really delicious! It’s even tastier than the plain wheat noodles that I have eaten in the past!”

Xiaocao picked up another radish with good moisture level and cut it into thin strips to make a cold dish. Bean noodles didn’t need to be served with rich side dishes. Cold shredded radish or spicy cold cabbage were the best complements.  

Xiaocao added another spoonful of bean noodles to Little Shitou’s bowl, and then filled a bowl for herself and Xiaolian. They swiftly began devouring the noodles in the kitchen. The bean noodles and side dish were made with simple and incomplete ingredients. However, with Xiaocao’s cooking skills and the enhancement of the mystic-stone water, the three kids ate until they nearly swallowed their own tongues.

When Madam Li smelled the aroma and came over with her son, the siblings had already eaten most of the bean noodles, leaving only a large bowl for their father. They had even finished washing the bowls already.

“You two damned brats, you must be secretly eating in the kitchen. Is there anymore? Take it out and give your Brother Heizi a bowl!” Madam Li opened the pot and stared at the bowl of bean noodles with a covetous gaze.  

“No, there’s a limited amount of flour at home. Grandfather told us to make a bowl for our father, so we won’t dare to make more. Won’t Grandmother skin us, if we did? Look, there’s only one bowl. Shitou was already salivating, but he still didn’t dare to take a bite!” Yu Xiaocao had an expression that said ‘if you don’t believe me, then see for yourself’.

Madam Li didn’t believe her and looked everywhere in the kitchen. When she didn’t find anything, she stared at the only bowl of bean noodles, “Your father just woke up after a serious injury. He won’t have any appetite to eat so much. Divide it in half and give it to her Brother Heizi…” As she spoke, she was about to pick up the bowl to divide the noodles.

Yu Xiaocao quickly picked up the noodles and ran towards the entrance of the kitchen, while shouting, “My father hasn’t eaten anything for five days. Eating more can help him recover faster… Grandfather, Grandfather! Brother Heizi wants to steal the noodles that we made for our father—"

Seeing that Heizi wanted to grab the bowl in her hands, Yu Xiaocao ran and screamed towards the yard. Heizi wasn’t afraid of anyone, but he feared Grandfather’s glare the most. He was so afraid that he hastily withdrew his hands and allowed Xiaocao to slip away under his nose.  

Old Yu usually mended the fishing nets in the courtyard at this time. Yu Xiaocao, who ran out of the kitchen, knew that Madam Li and son didn’t dare to brazenly take the noodles from her in the yard. She glanced back at him proudly, and then went back to her room with the bowl of noodles.

Inside the room, Madam Liu was feeding Xiaocao’s father water with a spoon. Yu Hai’s face was flushed, and he clearly still had a high fever. He moved closer to Madam Liu’s hand and slowly drank the mystic-stone water. Madam Liu carefully wiped off the water that had seeped from the corner of his mouth. Her thin and pale face was full of tenderness. The two of them sat face to face silently and glanced at one another from time to time, as if they were the only ones left in the world…

For a moment, Xiaocao felt that interrupting them was an unforgivable sin. Madam Liu was the first one to notice her arrival. Her eyes were filled with shock when she saw the bowl of noodles in Xiaocao’s hands. In the past, if anyone in their second branch missed a meal, they would had had to starve until the next meal. There had never been a time in which they were allowed to cook again. This big bowl of oily and savory noodles obviously wasn’t something they ate for breakfast…

Xiaolian saw the doubt within her mother’s eyes and laughed, “Grandfather heard that Father was awake, so he allowed us to make this. Xiaocao had deliberately made more. Mother can also eat some!”

Although some bean flour was added into the bean noodles, it was still mostly made of wheat flour. Moreover, it also had a rare trace of oil in it. So, of course, Madam Liu was reluctant to eat it and wanted to give some to her children to eat.

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Myst's Thoughts

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Translator: Myst