Chapter 44: Step one – Set Up a Small Kitchen Part 4
Yang Tiezhu pulled her to lie on the kang. Lin Qingwan removed her outer clothes and climbed onto the kang.
Both of the nestled against each other in the quilt as they casually chitchatted.
Once more than a shichen had passed, Lin Qingwan put on her clothes and went to chop the previously washed lotus root and added them into the clay pot. She then added more firewood into the stove and allowed them to cook for a longer time before going to rest again.
时辰 (shíchen): One Shichen is equivalent to two hours.
In a blink of an eye, the sky had already become dark. Lin Qingwan got up and put on clothes before going to check on the pig trotters soup again. The pig trotters soup was appropriately cooked, and the lotus roots were also soft and well cooked, while the pig trotters were also cooked sufficiently with their meat and bones neatly separating.
At this time, a voice from outside came calling everyone for dinner. Lin Qingwan opened the door, went to the kitchen, took two bowls of rice along with few vegetable dishes, and returned to her room.
The aroma of the hot soup soon permeated out of the second branch. The aroma assailed Wang-shi’s nostrils, making her mouth salivate. But today, it was her turn in cooking. Thus she could only muddleheadedly carry all the dishes into the main room.
He-shi could also smell a pleasant aroma from the soup in the second branch. But she didn’t know what kind of ingredients were added to it for it to smell exceptionally savory. But again, He-shi could only sniff at it, and the second branch also didn’t serve her a bowl either. Thinking of this, He-shi’s face became a notch darker.
While having dinner in the main room, everyone was preoccupied. Both the adults and children alike could only smell the aroma coming from the yard. Actually, it wasn’t also that exaggerated. After all, Lin Qingwan didn’t put anything extraordinary in it. It was a simple pig trotters soup. It was just that because of He-shi’s tight control on everyday meals, it had been quite a while since they saw meat or fish. And now, when smelling meat, everyone became a bit particularly stimulated.
After Lin Qingwan returned with food, she ladled the Pig trotters and Lotus root soup in a big bowl to the brim. Helping Yang Tiezhu shifted to the inner side of the kang, she placed a small-kang-table on the kang and arranged all the dishes along with the pig trotter soup on it. The two then began to eat.
Lin Qingwan wanted to feed Yang Tiezhu, but Yang Tiezhu refused. After all, he only injured his left shoulder, rendering him unable to use the left side. But nevertheless, his right hand was still working fine. Lin Qingwan helped him sit straight and placed two quilts behind him to sit on before handing him a pair of chopsticks.
Yang Tiezhu’s posture was extremely strange. His movements were also quite stiff as he couldn’t bend his shoulders, making his posture appear weird while eating. But overall, he was still able to eat fine, making Lin Qingwan feel at ease.
To make it more convenient for Yang Tiezhu, Lin Qingwan took a small bowl and ladled the soup into it, and put it by his side.
Yang Tiezhu took in a few mouthfuls of food, a piece of soft pig trotters in the soup, and drank a mouthful of the soup. Immediately after, he felt as if all of his pores had been opened.
“Wife, it’s really delicious. Your cooking is truly superb!”
Lin Qingwan amusingly glanced at him. Since when did this simple ad honest fellow had become this proficient in sweet-talking?
“If it is delicious, drink a bit more so as to nourish your body. Intaking more calcium would help your bones heal a bit faster.” While saying so, she added another piece of pig trotters in his bowl.
Although Yang Tiezhu didn’t know what calcium was, he too was aware that his wife had especially stewed this soup for him and was used to nourish bones. As such, he gobbled up the soup and the meat in it.
Lin Qingwan had also been recently craving meat, but her appetite was small. Just after eating few pieces of meat and lotus roots and drinking a small cup of soup, she was completely full.
After having the meal, Yang Tiezhu felt comfortable from the inside to the outside. And couldn’t help but feel his wife’s decision of having a small kitchen was correct.
He was injured and couldn’t go out hunting to make his wife eat sumptuous meals. Spending money to build a small kitchen in his name was not bad. In this way, his wife can also properly eat. Yang Tiezhu had been feeling distressed as he watched his wife busily managing matters during this period of time. Her whole person had also become quite thin.
After they were done eating, Lin Qingwan went to the well-side to wash the bowls and chopsticks. Over there in the main room, too, everyone was done eating, and all of them had gone back to their respective rooms. Even the doors of the main room were tightly shut.
Returning back to her room, she stored bowls and chopsticks in their places. She then took a big bowl, ladled the soup to the brim into it, covered it with a lid, put it in a basket to conceal it, took Yao-shi’s bundle, and went to the third branch’s room.
After few soft knocks on the door, Yao-shi quickly opened the door. Looking at the bundle in Lin Qingwan’s hands, Yao-shi thought she had come to return them; as such, she intended to pull in her to take a seat.
Lin Qingwan waved her hands and mouthed at her before handing her bundle back and holding up the small basket in her hands.
Yao-shi quickly waved her hands, indicated she did not want the basket. But Lin Qingwan glared at her and forced the basket into her hands before quickly turning away and walking away.
Yao-shi returned into the house with a bundle and basket in her hands.
Yang Tiegen knew that just like his second sao, Yao-shi had also started receiving work from outside. Yao-shi had also shown the copper coins she earned today. Yang Tiegen was happy yet also sad. He could understand his wife’s intention – she wanted to earn a little more money to buy delicious treats and nourishments for their children.
Yao-shi put away the bundle and took out the big bowl of soup from the basket. Along with the big soup bowl, there were also few pairs of chopsticks and bowls in the basket. Yao-shi’s eyes couldn’t help but become red, feeling touched.
As soon as she saw the basket, she was aware that second sao had brought them soup, but she rejected it because she knew that it had costed quite a bit of silver. But second sao had nevertheless forced it on her to accept. However, she hadn’t expected her to go as far as to prepare bowls and chopsticks for them to avoid going to the kitchen to take and alarm He-shi.
“Second sao is truly a good person. She is even very attentive towards the two girls.” Yao-shi wiped the tears from the corner of her eyes.
Yang Tiegen also silently nodded. It was only the second branch’s husband and wife who were sincerely good to them.
Yao-shi wiped her tears with a smile and arranged the things on the kang table before calling the two kids to eat.
After returning to her room, Lin Qingwan tidied up everything and was just about to go to do a bit of needlework when she heard someone knock on the door.
Lin Qingwan opened the door to see Wang-shi standing outside at the doorstep. Wang-shi was standing there beaming from ear to ear to her surprise while rubbing her hands in excitement.
“Second dimei, what did you cook this evening? The smell was truly good.” Wang-shi asked while she stretched her head to peep in.
Black lines appeared all over Lin Qingwan’s face, yet she put on a fake smile while blocking Wang-shi with one hand, “Nothing much. The doctor had said that Yang Tiezhu had injured his bones and tendons and needs to be properly nourished. That’s why I had made a pig trotters soup for him.”
“Then give eldest sao a bowl of soup. Ever since smelling the aroma, I have been craving for it.” Wang-shi said while licking her lips.
Lin Qingwan’s face became stiff. She had guessed that this must be the reason for Wang-shi’s coming.
“Eldest sao, apologies. You also know right that pig trotters aren’t cheap. As such, I only bought a little, just sufficient for Yang Tiezhu to drink.” Wang-shi’s complexion suddenly turned bad, looking suspiciously at Lin Qingwan.
“There has to be some leftover soup, right? Just give me soup without meat.”
“There is no leftover soup either.”
Wang-shi pulled a long face, as she exasperatedly said: “Lin Qingwan, you are doing this deliberately, aren’t you? Meat is finished, soup is also finished, who would believe it?!”
The fake smile on Lin Qingwan’s face disappeared as the color of her face changed. “If you don’t believe, I can’t do anything. Our second branch already owes a lot of ‘debt’ to the eldest gu. The family also hasn’t helped us settle the debt. Buying this bit of pig trotters was also only after saving money by spending prudently. If it weren’t for Yang Tuezhu injuring his bones, who would want to spend money on this expensive food to eat.”
Seeing Lin Qingwan’s resolute manner, Wang-shi realized that she wouldn’t get any meat to eat. She couldn’t help but curse her silently as she turned around and left.