Zhuzi’s grandma happily went to the hospital with Doctor Chen, and Su Xiaoxiao helped her wash the blood in the yard and clean the mess in the yard.
While Fantuan and Zhuzi picked a bunch of vegetables in the garden, Su Xiaoxiao couldn’t help but feel regret for not stopping the two from picking too many vegetables. It would be much better if Zhuzi came back here every day to pick vegetables; in that way, they could eat freshly picked vegetables every day.
The children have small hands; thus, they can only pick two days’ worth of vegetables, so it was still okay.
To Su Xiaoxiao’s surprise, the vegetable garden of Zhuzi’s grandmother had tons of perilla—which is the soul of fried snails. Not only fried snails but also a large variety of dishes were cooked best with perilla leaves.
Su Xiaoxiao was not polite and collected a lot of perilla leaves.
At the intersection, Su Xiaoxiao asked Fantuan and Zhuzi to take the vegetables home first, and she carried Xiao Doubao to the market to see if there were any big bones she could buy.
Since Doctor Chen has been invited for dinner, even if there is no meat, she had to add another dish.
Along the way, people were already discussing Zhuzi’s grandma.
When someone asked Su Xiaoxiao, she laughed it off and said nothing more.
Everyone began to talk about Zhuzi’s mother with a look of righteous indignation, saying how Zhuzi’s mother doesn’t want to be a widow, how Zhuzi’s mother took the pension from her deceased husband less than half a year ago and rushed to get married without taking Xiao Zhuzi with her.
They also talked about how the man was not a good seedling; he was greedy for her pension, and after he took all of the money from Zhuzi’s mother, he drove her out immediately. They also think that Zhuzi’s mother couldn’t give birth to a son, and they speculate that the man doesn’t want her, so he didn’t dare to touch her at all.
How can they have a son if he doesn’t want to touch her? If she hadn’t come back every time to beg Zhuzi’s grandma, she would have been thrown out ages ago, which would have prevented her from taking her husband’s pension.
This time, for unknown reasons, she smashed Grandma Zhuzi’s head and caused her to go to the hospital. Everyone was clamoring to see if they would still dare to come here next time.
Nowadays, the aunt living under the banyan tree can be called the strongest intelligence agent. There is nothing she doesn’t know at a distance of ten villages and eight miles. She listens from east and west, piecing together every piece of information she gathered until she finally understands the whole story.
There may be some elements of adding salt to the wound by spreading false information—pinching the head and removing the tail. It means removing the first and second parts of the context, or removing the useless or unimportant details.
With such a mother, Xiao Zhuzi could only live a more difficult life.
Su Xiaoxiao is lucky. There were still a few big bones without meat left in the meat factory. If Su Xiaoxiao was a few minutes late, the stall would be closed by then.
Su Xiaoxiao asked the butcher to cut a little bit for her as usual, and the man cut the bones into several pieces without asking what she needed them for.
The butcher’s name is Lao Hu— Lao Hu is a very talkative uncle. He asked Su Xiaoxiao, “Fantuan’s Mom, Teacher Cheng didn’t go to your house to find trouble, right?
“Teacher Cheng, did what?” Su Xiaoxiao didn’t understand why he asked.
Lao Hu: “She came to ask me yesterday whether you came to buy meat every day, or how much you bought at a time, and whether you were particularly greedy.”
Su Xiaoxiao: “…” Is this Teacher Cheng too full and has nothing to do? Are all of the grade school teachers this idle?
Lao Hu then said, “She is my youngest son’s homeroom teacher, so, I can’t offend her. I just told her that you have only bought meat bones once, and had not bought any meat. However, she refused to believe it. Well, I don’t know why she asked me about you.”
Su Xiaoxiao finally knew who had reported her family for living a “corrupt lifestyle.” However, she has never suspected her of doing it.
Su Xiaoxiao couldn’t help but be puzzled by Teacher Cheng’s behavior. Wasn’t it just a small conflict between two children? How can she hold grudges just because of this?
Su Xiaoxiao took the bone, smiled, and said, “Maybe it’s just small talk. It’s nothing. Thank you.”
Lao Hu looked around and said in a low voice, “Fantuan’s Mom, Teacher Cheng is a bit narrow-minded, you have to be cautious around her. I advise you not to offend her. Whenever I don’t leave her the best meat, she will punish or criticize my son the next day.”
Su Xiaoxiao thanked Lao Hu, thinking, she had already learned a lot from this day trip.
When Su Xiaoxiao returned, she saw Fantuan squatting in the vegetable garden again to dig for worms, and it looked like he took Xiao Zhuzi to dig with him.
Maybe he found a big one, so Fantuan exclaimed and grabbed it to feed Zhou, Fen, Mian, and Fan: “Fen, Mian, and Fan! You can’t take that! This one is for Zhou. He has to grow up first. I want to eat his chicken leg!”
Su Xiaoxiao: “…” This boy… I don’t know who he took after. Nonetheless, he’s still as cute as in the past, and he sure did complete the task entrusted to him today very well.
“Aunt Su.” Xiao Zhuzi was still a little shy.
Su Xiaoxiao put Xiao Doubao down and let him play with his brothers.
“Xiao Zhuzi, don’t be nervous. Our family doesn’t have so many rules, treat us like we are your own family.”
“Mom, you are back! What good things did you buy?” Xiao Fantuan threw down the small shovel made by Han Cheng for him to dig earthworms and ran to look at the things in Su Xiaoxiao’s hand, like a steel cannon.
“Big stick bone? Is our family going to eat big intestine noodles again today? Huh? Where are the big intestines?” Fantuan still remembers the food they ate last time, and thought he could eat it again today.
“There are no big intestines today. Take out the lotus root sent by Dundun yesterday, we will have fried snails and lotus root soup in the evening,” Su Xiaoxiao said.
Fantuan cheered and said, “It must be the first in the most delicious dish again!” After talking, he ran into the storage room and picked up the lotus root.
Su Xiaoxiao took out the river snail that was in a bucket and faced the difficult-to-prepare river snails.
In her last life, she was also very fond of snails. Once in a while, she would go to the night market and order a plate of river snails and an iced beer. However, this and that were completely different, and it is much harder to prepare it by herself. The meat of the river snails was more compact and delicious than that of the field snails, but it was much smaller. It was only a little bigger than the little thumb. It was particularly troublesome to handle.
She found a pair of pliers, aimed at the sharp buttocks of the snail, and cut it off forcefully, leaving only one snail head. The river snail was comparable to her little thumb, so you could only eat a little bit of every river snail. Even though she had dozens of snails, she didn’t know when she could extract all of the meat from them.
Zhuzi moved large and small stones and squatted beside Su Xiaoxiao without saying a word. He picked up a river snail and put it on the larger stone, pinched the snail’s head, and hit its back with Xiao Shitou’s other hand – a complete head of the snail came out.
Su Xiaoxiao: “…” She heard the sound of her IQ being crushed.
Oh, I can still do it this way? Her life wisdom is not as good as that of a six-year-old child.
“Xiao Zhuzi is awesome! Go and move a small stool and sit down. Let’s do it together. Thank you for your help; otherwise, I don’t know when I can finish these whole buckets.”
Xiao Fantuan also imitated Xiao Zhuzi and followed suit in helping his mother deal with the river snail.
Su Xiaoxiao said: “Be careful. Fantuan, don’t lift the stone too high, or you may hit your fingers!”
Zhuzi is quick at work. You can see how much he handles at first glance. So, Su Xiaoxiao was not so worried about him. It was this little Fantuan, who raised the stone at the top of his head and then hit it down. The whole snail was smashed by him. Su Xiaoxiao was shocked and trembled.
“No. Aunt Su, the river snails are long.” Zhuzi said.
After finishing speaking, Zhuzi told Fantuan to be gentler and guided him to hit the back of the snail.
Even Xiao Doubao wanted to “help in smashing” the river snail, so Su Xiaoxiao hurriedly carried him away.
Fantuan smashed a few more pieces before he started to get the technique. With the help of these two good helpers, Su Xiaoxiao relaxed a lot.
Finally, she saw that there was not much left. She got up and went to the kitchen to prepare lotus root soup, and let the two children deal with the rest.
The lotus root bone soup also has no technical content. The bone is blanched, and the lotus root hob is cut into large pieces and put into the pot, along with a handful of peanuts, and enough water to simmer for more than two hours.
After the two children had dealt with the river snail, it was time for Fantuan to study. Su Xiaoxiao began to teach him to write radicals and simple Chinese characters.
Zhuzi also went to primary school in September and learned the same content. Su Xiaoxiao gave him a new set of notebooks and pencils to study with Fantuan.
At first, Zhuzi shook his head and disagreed. These books and pencils were too precious, and he didn’t dare use them.
Su Xiaoxiao said that these things have no value at all. They are waste paper. Only those who work hard can leave traces of their efforts on them to reflect their real value.
This was the first time Zhuzi to hear such a speech, and he was deeply shocked by it. He also found that Fantuan’s handwriting was even better than his, so he didn’t refuse.
“Aunt Su, you teach better than our Teacher Cheng,” said by little Zhuzi sincerely.
It’s this Teacher Cheng again. How come she’s everywhere? Su Xiaoxiao almost thought that she was the only teacher in the whole military primary school.
“Please show me your textbook and come to study with Fantuan every day.” Su Xiaoxiao thought that he might as well follow the system of learning at the school. Anyway, Zhuzi has textbooks.
Zhuzi lowered his head and did not speak.
Su Xiaoxiao thought he was unwilling: “Why? You don’t want to?”
Zhuzi shook his head and said, “No. Aunt Su, Grandma is old. I have to help her work. Maybe I can’t come every day.”
Su Xiaoxiao patted his head, feeling very distressed: What a good child! He is just a six-year-old kid.
“When your Grandma comes back, I’ll talk to her and see what we can do. You don’t have to worry.” It’s fine not to do anything when she’s not aware of it, but now she is. Anyway, she can’t watch such a good child destroyed for this reason.
It was getting late. The two children did their homework, and Su Xiaoxiao began to prepare to fry the snails.
If you want the snails to taste even better, perilla is the finishing touch. Su Xiaoxiao cut a lot of perilla leaves for use, as well as various ingredients such as ginger, onion, and garlic, and she also prepared a little star anise and pepper.
Unfortunately, the oil is not enough, and the number of snails is too high. Su Xiaoxiao gritted her teeth and poured the peanut oil, frying all the ingredients except basil leaves and shallots. She then poured out all the river snails. After stir-frying, Su Xiaoxiao added salt and soy sauce—stir-frying it evenly, and finally poured a white wine, and covered the lid after pouring the water just above the river snails.
Su Xiaoxiao moved the lotus root soup that had been stewed, put it on the charcoal stove and let it simmer slowly, and used the vacated pot to stew sweet potato rice.
Everything is ready, and the rest is left to time.
After all this, Su Xiaoxiao heard someone swearing outside the door: “This family! I don’t know what they cook every day. Even the dog next door can’t sit still. They are too greedy!”
Su Xiaoxiao: 囧
Well, people are complimenting her cooking skills in disguise.
Well, she admits that good ingredients become even more delicious when stewed in an iron pot.
“Fantuan, why does your mom’s cooking smell so good? Does it always smell this good?” Zhuzi couldn’t help swallowing his saliva and secretly asking Fantuan.
The bowl of fish soup that Aunt Su gave him last time has been the most delicious thing he has ever eaten. This smell is unbearable. River snails are often eaten by their families, but they do not smell like this at all.
Little Fantuan, who was not shocked by his reaction, calmly said: “My mother’s cooking is the best in the world, and tomorrow, her dish will always be better than today.” Little Fantuan took a deep breath and savored the aroma of the dish his mother had made. He sighed like a small adult, “Today’s food is more delicious than yesterday’s, tomorrow’s food will be more delicious. If you don’t believe me, then wait until tomorrow and find out!”
Little Zhuzi couldn’t imagine it.
After Su Xiaoxiao finished instructing the two children on their homework, Xiao Doubao went to peek at what his brothers had written, and then he copied and drew all over the place—and the sun slowly set.
Before the last ray of afterglow subsided, Han Cheng finally arrived. Of course, the naive, Doctor Chen came back with him.
He was still blocked by Han Cheng today.
Doctor Chen held the door bolt with one hand and said, “Hey, Director Han, I’m a guest invited by my sitter-in-law to your house today. You can’t drive me out anymore.”
Fantuan came to the hospital today to find help Doctor Chen went out to rescue Zhuzi’s grandma, and Su Xiaoxiao enthusiastically invited him to eat dinner at their house. Han Cheng had heard him say these a hundred and eighty times, and his ears were getting calluses, but he didn’t want to let this guy in.
Su Xiaoxiao heard the sound and saw them standing at the door. She bent her eyes and said softly, “Han Cheng, let Doctor Chen come in. We’re about to start our dinner.”
Han Cheng turned around. Su Xiaoxiao’s face was slightly flushed under the sunset. The small dimples on her cheeks were slightly raised. Behind her, there were three children with smiles on their faces. The yard was filled with the aroma of food. He, who had everything perfect wife, children, warm house, etc. in front of him, mercifully rewarded the lonely Doctor Chen to come in and eat.
T/N: Thanks for reading!
Hello, I'm Lucia, and I love novels with themes from the 70s, 80s, and ancient eras. Therefore, I will mainly focus on translating novels from these time periods. If you have any recommendations for novels you'd like me to read and translate, please don't hesitate to send me a direct message on my Discord. Thank you!