Su Xiaoxiao was taken by surprise when she poured out the contents of the bucket, as she did not anticipate the large amount of seafood that came pouring out.
Most of this seafood was picked up by Xiao Fantuan and Xiao Zhuzi, including many small sea snails such as flower snails and cat eye snails, which could fill an entire plate.
The cubs ate sugar rings and milk rice cakes together. Fantuan shared a collection of small toys crafted by his father with Xiao Bao, and within a brief period, the two cubs developed a close bond akin to that of brothers.
Xiao Bao is particularly fond of Xiao Doubao and finds his new little brother very cute. He can easily hug and carry him, and Xiao Bao was not at all hesitant to share whatever good things he had on hand. On the other hand, Xiao Doubao also likes his new big brother more than his own older brother.
Su Xiaoxiao instructed the cubs to squat in front of the water pump and wash the seafood they had picked up. Xiao Fantuan asked Xiao Zhuzi, “Xiao Zhuzi, why didn’t you go to the beach to collect sea snails before? Why did you go to the mountains to collect stone snails? These sea snails are much larger than stone snails, and they must be even more delicious.”
Xiao Zhuzi remembered something, and his expression darkened for a moment: “Grandma won’t let me go, she said the seaside is dangerous.”
Xiao Bao chimed in and shared: “The small stone snail is very delicious, and there are also small streams on our mountain. Sometimes I pick them up and bring them over to my Aunt to cook. She makes them very delicious, and there are also large snails in the fields of our village.”
Xiao Bao took the biggest snail and said, “It’s as big as this one. It’s the best food during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Grandma went to cut rice, and I followed her to pick up field snails. I could fill a large box with them. Sometimes I could also find rice eels and water louse. Once, I even discovered a nest of bird eggs hidden in the straw.”
Xiao Bao’s words attracted the collective envy and cheers of his friends.
Just thinking about it, Xiao Fantuan found it amusing: “I have never seen unhusked rice, eels, or water louses before, nor have I ever picked up bird eggs. Xiao Zhuzi, have you ever come across bird eggs when you went to the mountains to collect stone snails?”
Xiao Zhuzi pondered for a moment and replied, “I have seen it before, but it’s difficult to reach as it is usually in tall trees.”
Xiao Bao said, “Climb up! Don’t you all know how to climb trees? I’m good at climbing trees. Take me there, and I’ll help you collect the bird’s nest. There must be plenty of bird eggs in there.”
When Xiao Bao was saying this, Li Yufeng happened to pass by and patted Xiao Bao’s buttocks again. “When did you sneak off to climb a tree again? And you still want to teach your brothers to follow in your footsteps and get into trouble, right? Climbing trees can be very dangerous. You must not listen to him. Do you understand?”
When it comes to observing words and expressions, none of these children is more powerful than Fantuan. He nodded immediately and said, “Yes, Grandma, we won’t climb trees. It’s too dangerous. Grandma, how tall is the rice? Are there many bird nests in the rice fields?”
Li Yufeng squatted down to wash the seafood with the children and answered Xiao Fantuan’s question, “The rice is probably as tall as Xiao Doubao. There are bird nests, but they are rare. There are also eels, loaches, water lice, and fish, but not as many as river snails. The fields have a lot of river snails.”
“Wow… “Xiao Fantuan exclaimed with envy: “If only I could go to grandma’s house to pick up snails.”
Li Yufeng was nimble and quickly washed the seafood that the children had been playing with for half a day. “What’s so difficult about this? When you’re all on vacation, why don’t you go back to Sujia Village with Xiaoxiao?”
Xiao Fantuan widened his eyes and said, “Is that okay? Is it really okay?”
Li Yufeng stood up with the seafood on the bucket and said, “Of course, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Xiao Fantuan let out a scream of joy and ran into the kitchen to look for Su Xiaoxiao. “Mom, Grandma said I could go to her house and pick snails and loaches with Xiao Bao. Is that true?”
The courtyard was not far from the kitchen, and their conversation naturally caught the attention of Su Xiaoxiao and Han Cheng.
Su Xiaoxiao replied: “Of course, you can. Let’s wait for the Chinese New Year. Our whole family will be on vacation, and we’ll take you back to the Su Family’s Village to take a look. However, I doubt there will be any snails left by then, right, Mom?”
Li Yufeng replied: “There might be some, but very few. During winter, the water is extremely cold, so not many people would dare to pick up snails for fear of catching a cold. The summer and autumn seasons are the best times for picking up snails.”
Xiao Fantuan is a bit regretful, nonetheless, and still looks forward to going to Sujia Village in the future.
The kitchen would be crowded if Li Yufeng were to join in cooking, so leaving the couple to cook is enough. Li Yufeng asked Su Xiaoxiao, “Where is the hoe? I’ll go and plow the vegetable field.”
Su Xiaoxiao was speechless and said, “Mom, take a break first. You don’t have to hurry.”
Li Yufeng disagreed and said, “Why shouldn’t I do it quickly? How wasteful it is not to plant vegetables on such a large piece of bare land. If you plant it one day earlier, you can save money on buying vegetables. I originally planned to bring you a basket of vegetables, but the train is too crowded, so it’s difficult to carry.”
When she wrote a letter to her mother, it seemed like she had put too much effort into making her mother come earlier. Their family didn’t really lack the money to buy vegetables.
Su Xiaoxiao couldn’t resist her, so she asked Xiao Fantuan to take his grandma to the storage room to find a hoe.
Li Yufeng pushed open the door of the storage room and was startled to see a room full of grain, with preserved meat and duck hanging on the beam.
‘How much money was spent to buy all of the things in this room? Even some expensive ingredients like peppercorns and anise have been stocked.’
Li Yufeng asked Fantuan, “Fantuan, what does your family eat every day?”
Fantuan remembered his mother saying that he couldn’t tell others about the meat they ate at home every day, otherwise, they might be reported and he might not be able to eat meat for a week in the future. Although Grandma is not an outsider, Xiao Fantuan is a clever child. If his grandma found out and didn’t allow him to eat meat every day, how pitiful would that be for him?
So Xiao Fantuan said, “My mother likes to mix sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and rice together. She also likes to eat dried beans and pickled radishes made by grandma.” Xiao Fantuan sighed, ‘On our first time coming here to the military area, my dad and I went to the cafeteria to buy braised pork. Ever since that day, I have never eaten pork again. I really want to eat braised pork!”
Although the dishes his mother cooks every day are very delicious, Xiao Fantuan is still greedy for braised pork after not having it for so long.
Fantuan did not lie to Li Yufeng. Su Xiaoxiao really likes to eat all kinds of dry goods that Li Yufeng makes. Their house has a variety of meats, including chicken, duck, fish, and seafood in brine. When they make braised pork, they use pork belly that has been boiled to refine oil. They use this oil for cooking and also use some of the pork as a side dish.
Li Yufeng always had a suspicion that something was amiss. When her daughter got married, she always told her not to worry about saving money. Moreover, with Xiao Bao growing up, he had to eat meat every week. So why is her daughter not willing to buy meat now? It seemed impossible that the family members could maintain their good complexions and even gain weight without meat.
However, when Li Yufeng looked at the innocent Xiao Fantuan, she believed that such a cute child wouldn’t deceive anyone. She thought carefully and wondered if it was because this place was near the sea, and thus they ate more seafood.
Li Yufeng wanted to ask Su Xiaoxiao, but after thinking about it, she dismissed it. She believed that her daughter and Han Cheng had done a good job raising their children, and she didn’t want to meddle in their affairs. Moreover, she believed that being diligent and frugal is important and that it’s not good to be wasteful and extravagant.
Since the child wants to eat meat, she must let her daughter go buy meat tomorrow.
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!