The Sweet Stepmother and her Cute Cubs (70s)
The Sweet Stepmother and her Cute Cubs (70s) Chapter 51

Chapter 51

When Su Xiaoxiao arrived home just after eleven o’clock, the children had already lined up one by one to have Li Yufeng measure their sizes. They knew that their grandma was going to make new clothes for them, so they quietly gathered around her and watched her as she made the clothes.

Li Yufeng was clever and skillful. She used cloth scraps to make a small puppet for Xiao Doubao. As soon as Xiao Doubao got it, he refused to put it down. And when his mother returned, he ran to Su Xiaoxiao to offer his treasure.

Su Xiaoxiao rubbed the baby’s head and said, “Xiao Doubao’s toys are very beautiful.”

Xiao Doubao’s eyes narrowed with extreme happiness.

After Su Xiaoxiao changed her outfit and came out, Li Yufeng felt an even stronger sense of urgency to quickly sew clothes for her daughter.

“Mom, there’s a sewing machine in your room. Have you seen it?” Han Cheng and Yang Mei are talents. When they got married, they bought a bicycle and a sewing machine.

Li Yufeng: “I see. I’ll first cut out the pattern, and then use the sewing machine to make it quickly.”

Su Xiaoxiao picked up the clothes that Li Yufeng had cut and complimented her: “Mom, with your skills if you open a tailor’s shop, you’ll have customers flocking in.”

Indeed, Li Yufeng had a natural talent for tailoring. Once she took measurements and determined the correct size, she confidently picked up the scissors and started cutting the fabric without any hesitation. Her designs were simple yet elegant, and she seemed to know exactly what she was doing without even having to look.

In fact, Li Yufeng had been making clothes for everyone in the family for decades, and she was so skilled that she could make simple clothes with her eyes closed.

What’s even more remarkable is that Li Yufeng never wastes even a scrap of cloth. She directly makes buttons from the excess fabric, and sews them onto clothes. These buttons are not only unique and customized but also more suitable than any store-bought buttons. By doing so, she saves money on button purchases. Su Xiaoxiao couldn’t help but be convinced of her mother’s ability.

Su Xiaoxiao doesn’t have much talent for making clothes, so she might as well go cook.

At noon, they had the braised pork belly that Xiao Fantuan had requested, but unfortunately, they couldn’t buy any tofu that day. Su Xiaoxiao had soaked some dried beans before going out, and decided to use them as a side dish for the braised pork belly instead. It turned out to be delicious.

In the morning, Su Xiaoxiao wanted to buy some mung bean sprouts, but Li Yufeng refused to let her do so. She explained that with just a few mung bean seeds, they could harvest a large bucket of sprouts in just a few days, without spending any money on buying them.

Li Yufeng also noticed that no vegetables were growing in the field. She knew that Su Xiaoxiao didn’t know how to grow mung bean sprouts and yellow bean sprouts to save money on buying vegetables, so she brought some seeds with her.

Su Xiaoxiao really didn’t expect it.

She walked into the kitchen and saw a wooden bucket filled with sand soaked in water, covered with a black cloth. It was probably the mung bean sprouts raised by Li Yufeng.

The rice was steamed with sweet potato grains, as usual. Su Xiaoxiao separated the yolks of all the salted duck eggs and placed them on top of the rice, which she then steamed together. She planned to use them later to make mooncakes.

Su Xiaoxiao didn’t buy many salted duck eggs. There are only ten in total. She can only make ten moon cakes to celebrate the next festival.

Su Xiaoxiao chopped half a catty of lean meat into a meatloaf and mixed it with the salted egg yolks. Concerned that it might be too salty, she added two extra eggs and an equal amount of warm water to the mixture. She then added a little pepper, ginger, and a spoonful of white wine to remove the fishy smell, and steamed the mixture to create a large plate of salted egg yolk meatloaf.

The amount of pork belly is not much, weighing only a little over a pound. Considering the size of their family, having two or three pieces per person was already a good amount. However, with the addition of the plate of steamed meatloaf, the meal became much more abundant.

Then, she stir-fried a large plate full of green vegetables to complement the meat dish. The table was then filled with a nutritious meal consisting of a combination of meat and vegetables.

Both stewing and steaming take time, and while waiting, Su Xiaoxiao put the red beans that had soaked all night with white sugar into a clay pot and slowly cooked them over a charcoal fire. She also prepared the dough by adding eggs, flour, and the desired amount of oil and setting it aside to rise.

Han Cheng returned home from work, and just like in the past, the yard was still full of fragrance. His wife was busy in the kitchen, and the children were exceptionally quiet today. They obediently gathered around their Grandma to watch her make clothes and listen to her explain why she cut them like this.

Han Cheng doesn’t have many elders around him, and the closest elders all passed away early. Having an elder in your home is like having a treasure in your home, and it’s what Han Cheng dreams of for his ideal life. No matter how hard or tiring his job is, when he enters his home, he can smell the fragrance of food being prepared, have a kind elder taking care of the children, and a gentle wife who always greets him with a smile and asks, “Han Cheng, have you finished work? Did you work hard today?” These quiet yet beautiful years are worth all the hard work.

Li Yufeng was particularly fond of the obedient Xiao Doubao. In no time, she made a small bib for him out of cloth and wrapped it around his neck, saying: “Xiao Doubao, put on this bib so you won’t be afraid of getting your clothes dirty when we eat.”

Xiao Doubao was particularly happy: He hugged his grandmother and gave her a big kiss, then walked with his cute short legs to show his mother his new treasure.

The little guy didn’t pay attention to the road, ran towards the kitchen door, and bumped into Han Cheng’s long leg. He fell into a squat and looked bewildered.

Han Cheng quickly picked up the little guy, gently patted off the dust on his body, and said:  “Xiao Doubao, pay attention to the road when walking.”

Xiao Doubao bent his eyes and pulled his bib with his hand to show Han Cheng, “Dad, bib~~~”

Han Cheng froze for a moment, and it took him a while to react. He rubbed the little guy’s head and said, “Finally, you’re willing to call me dad, Huh?”

Xiao Doubao stared at his bib with his long eyelashes hanging down, not answering his father’s questions.

Xiao Doubao almost called everyone’s names, and he even called his grandmother and the chicken names, “Zhou, Fen, Mian, and Fan.” When it was his turn, he realized that he was the last person, and Han Cheng didn’t know how to react anymore.

If it weren’t for him being so young, Han Cheng would have doubted if the little guy still held grudges for sending him to Zhou Cuihua.

“Having been too busy before, Han Cheng had already forgotten how it felt when Xiao Fantuan called him “Dad” for the first time. Now, as he looks at his lovely child and the hard-won years in peaceful contentment, he feels warmth flowing through his heart. ‘This is probably what happiness feels like.’

Su Xiaoxiao came out of the kitchen, she smiled, and reached out to lift Xiao Doubao’s small bib: “Grandma made this for you, Xiao Doubao? Don’t forget to say thank you to your Grandma.”

Xiao Doubao reached out, and his short legs wiggled as he signaled to Su Xiaoxiao for a hug.

“Su Xiaoxiao spread out her hands and said, “Mom just finished kneading the noodles, so my hands are dirty. Mom saw your new bib, and it’s very beautiful. Go play with your brothers first.”

Xiao Doubao nodded and struggled down to the ground.

Han Cheng put the little guy down, rubbed his little head, and asked him to go play with his brothers.

While no one was looking in their direction, Han Cheng tilted his head and kissed Su Xiaoxiao’s face.

Su Xiaoxiao kissed him back but was suddenly seen by Xiao Fantuan, who turned his head towards their side. Xiao Fantuan grinned like a mischievous cat and also leaned over to kiss Xiao Doubao on the face, who had just run over.

Xiao Doubao avoided him in disgust, making Xiao Fantuan burst into laughter.

Han Cheng went into the kitchen to help Su Xiaoxiao cook, but when he opened the lid, it was so fragrant, he couldn’t help but ask: “What’s so fragrant?”

“Salted egg yolk meatloaf. Don’t take out the salted egg yolk at the bottom. I’ll make the mooncake later, “Su Xiaoxiao said.

Han Cheng said, “Didn’t we have a box of mooncakes?”

“It’s a festival, so I made a few pieces, just like the fried sugar rings for the Spring Festival and the Zongzi dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival.” Adults may not care, but since there are children at home, Su Xiaoxiao believes that these festivals should still be celebrated and feel the presence of the festival.

If conditions permit, she still wants to make a birthday cake for the children’s birthdays. Her best skill in her previous life was making pastries, but unfortunately, she doesn’t have that condition now.

Han Cheng knew she liked to do these things, so he didn’t say anything more.

Li Yufeng felt distressed when she saw so many dishes. There were ten salted egg whites, and she wanted to save some, but seeing the children eat so deliciously, she felt that it was worth it.

There isn’t much-braised pork—only three big pieces and four small ones, so each person can only take one. However, the children are very satisfied with it. It’s strange to say, but the satisfaction of eating braised pork cannot be replaced by any other food.

“Mother’s braised pork belly is the best!” Xiao Fantuan gave the highest compliment on the spot.

Xiao Bao nodded until his mouth was full of oil and said, “I also think so. Grandma’s cooking is not as delicious as Aunt’s.”

Li Yufeng said, “It’s good to have meat to eat. How can meat not be delicious when cooked? Why are you still being picky?”

In fact, Li Yufeng is now worried about what to do if Xiao Bao doesn’t want to go back with her. Xiao Bao already likes his aunt the most, and he eats and lives well here, and he likes the children here. Everything here makes him happy, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he is unwilling to leave.

Han Cheng and Xiao Doubao both love steamed meat pancakes the most. This is even Han Cheng’s first time trying it. As a result, the lean meat is tender and delicious, and he cannot help but admire his wife’s ingenuity.

The whole family does not indulge in eating and drinking too much. They just ate enough, and there is still one-third of the meatloaf left. This thing can be kept, and it is still delicious to reheat it at night.

The children moved around and ran for a nap, while Han Cheng washed the dishes and also took a nap.

Li Yufeng helped Su Xiaoxiao press the red bean paste and asked her quietly, “Why is Han Cheng washing the dishes every day?” She had just rushed to do it, but Han Cheng still refused, saying that it was his job.

Su Xiaoxiao kneaded the dough while nodding, “I cook, and he washes the dishes. Otherwise, if I go to work and do all the household chores alone in the future, I will be too busy and dizzy.”

“Oh, you… “Li Yufeng didn’t know what to say, and a son-in-law like Han Cheng was really rare.

Not to mention Han Cheng, the old men in Sujia Village rarely go into the kitchen or wash dishes and clothes.
But Han Cheng is different from them, he always accompanies Su Xiaoxiao to do household chores when he gets home from work, and does everything at once.

“Mom, our family belongs to both of us. If only one person puts in all the effort, there will always be an imbalance, and problems will eventually arise. But don’t worry, we will maintain a good balance.”

Li Yufeng is a traditional woman with Confucian moral injunctions. But she is not. For Su Xiaoxiao, everyone is equal. [1]Confucian moral injunctions for women, namely: obey in turn three men, father, husband, and son, plus the four virtues of morality, physical charm, propriety in speech, and efficiency in needlework.

The mother and daughter chatted here and there.

Su Xiaoxiao’s red bean paste and salted egg yolk moon cake are finally done. 

Even in the 21st century, this handmade dim sum remains a delicious treat with its soft and sweet red bean paste filling, wrapped in salty duck egg yolk and crispy cake crust, then brushed with egg yolk and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.

The only drawback is that there is no mooncake mold, and the shape produced is not so neat. It doesn’t look like the shape of the mooncake, and the process of baking the mooncake takes some effort.

Finally, Li Yufeng suggested burning a small earthen jar with a charcoal fire, covering it with a lid, and baking the mooncakes in the jar until cooked.

“Initially, Su Xiaoxiao didn’t expect this method to work, but the results were surprisingly good. The skin turned golden and crisp, with even color, without the need to worry about overbaking. With this local oven, Su Xiaoxiao can make more delicious food in the future, including roast duck, roast fish, and even roasted squab, which made her very happy.

……………

Zongzi

Red Bean Mooncakes With Salted Egg Yolk

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References

References
1 Confucian moral injunctions for women, namely: obey in turn three men, father, husband, and son, plus the four virtues of morality, physical charm, propriety in speech, and efficiency in needlework.

stillnotlucia[Translator]

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