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Yu Xiaocao, who was making ‘honey abalone’ angrily shouted at him, “If you want to eat it, then go and pick it yourself, alright?”
Today, when Royal Prince Yang saw the abalones that were drying out in their yard, he casually ordered the dish ‘honey abalone’. Yu Xiaocao finally had a chance to go into the sea to help Third Young Master Zhou prepare the portions needed for the palace next month. All that hard work was ruined by his one word… it looked like she would have to go into the sea again these few days!
Madam Liu, who was acting as an assistant, glanced at her and whispered, “The other person is a royal prince, a member of the imperial family. Just because he has a good temper, it doesn’t mean you can take advantage of it. Regardless of his identity, the visitor is a guest. If the guest has any requests, the host should try to satisfy them. That is hospitality.”
After scolding her daughter a few times, Madam Liu put a piece of firewood in the stove and stood up. She walked over to the kitchen door and said, “Our family’s Cao’er has a childish temper, please don’t take offense. I’ll go help you pick…”
Zhu Junyang was also curious about the vegetable plots in the backyard. He put down his cup, slowly stood up, and said to Madam Liu, “No need. I’m currently idle and have nothing to do. I’ll go to the backyard and take a look. Go ahead and continue your work!”
Zhu Junyang left the capital on the orders of the emperor this time. He could stay until the corn and potatoes were ripe. Therefore, Head Steward Liu, who closely served him, also came. What did it mean to closely serve? Naturally, it meant that he will be wherever the master went.
“Master, let this old servant go pick it!” Although the royal prince still only had one expression on his face——that is to say, there was no expression, Head Steward Liu could hear his master’s politeness toward Madam Liu from his tone.
His master never said false words to people. There were no exceptions, even for the so-called noble ranked women of the capital. Why did the prince make an exception for this Madam Liu, who was just a countrywoman? For the past few days, Head Seward Liu observed that it was not only Madam Liu that his master treated differently. What did the Yu Family have for the prince to regard them specially?
Could it be the matter of Yu Hai saving the master’s life? That didn’t seem right! Before the prince went out to sea, he had already met the Yu Family at the pier. At that time, he still had a cold and cool attitude and didn’t pay them any attention. Was it possibly because the Yu Family had helped the prince with his problems, and could grow corn and potatoes? The men under the master were much more capable and had made outstanding contributions, yet the master never praised them for doing a good job? Just what magic potion did the Yu Family give his master?
Head Steward Liu was just in the middle of puzzling, and his master had already passed through the round doors into the backyard, coming to a more open vegetable field.
Unlike the leafy green vegetables planted in the front yard, the vegetables in the backyard were more abundant. On the surrounding walls, there were many sponge gourds with yellow flowers on them. On rows of bamboo racks, there are long fresh green beans, jade green cucumbers, fresh and tender calabashes, and golden pumpkins…In the well-planned vegetable field, the purple eggplants had a mysterious luster in the sunlight, the red and green pointy peppers covered the branches, and the tomatoes were like little lanterns sticking out of the leaves. The entire backyard was filled with the joys of harvest.
Seeing that his master’s cold personality was gradually warming up, Head Steward Liu was rather relieved. It seemed that the master had an affinity for the rural scenery. Maybe after staying here for a while, the master will gradually turn back into the carefree little boy from when he was a child…
While Head Steward Liu was moved to the point that his nose tingled, Zhu Junyang had picked a tender cucumber from the cucumber rack and chewed it up in his mouth.
As soon as Head Steward Liu saw it, he hurried forward, “Master, let this servant wash it for you before you eat it!”
“No need, I saw Yu Xiaocao eat it like this last time!” Zhu Junyang took another bite. The crispy and tender cucumber was full of juice, refreshing and thirst-quenching.
‘That little girl is used to living in the countryside. If she eats unclean food, it’s alright. Master, you are delicate and pampered. If you get a stomachache, what will we do?’ Head Steward Liu said in his mind.
At this time, Zhu Junyang came to the tomato field. Searching carefully, he finally found a red and colorful tomato under a cluster of thick leaves. The Yu Family didn’t have to worry about selling their vegetables. There were many carriages that came to buy them every day. Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked. Naturally, they were one of the more popular vegetables for the rich people in town. To be able to find one or two out of the vegetable fields that didn’t get sold was considered lucky already.
Zhu Junyang could care less about his new shoes that were dirtied by the newly watered soil. With a sense of achievement, he found five ripe tomatoes in the tomato field. He returned from the backyard content, with a tomato in his mouth and the rest in his pocket. He looked very casual and at ease.
He stomped the dirt off his feet and stomped toward the kitchen instead of sitting at the stone table. He rushed inside and hurriedly said to the busy Yu Xiaocao, “Yu Xiaocao, I want to eat scrambled eggs with tomatoes!”
Yu Xiaocao, who was struggling with the honey abalone, didn’t seem to hear him as she was trying to mix the sauce over and over again. Yu Xiaocao didn’t know how to make everything. In her previous life, she had made a lot of homemade dishes and she had some talent at cooking, so naturally, the taste of the food was quite good. However, abalone was very precious and her home wasn’t near the sea in her previous life, so she hadn’t seen much abalone, let alone cooked with it.
Thankfully, the current Head Chef of Zhenxiu Restuarant, Yang Feng, who was also the apprentice of the previous Head Chef Wang, once made honey abalone in front of her. It didn’t look hard when she saw him make it, so why was it so hard now that she was making it?
“Yu Xiaocao, I’m talking to you. Are you deaf or mute?” Ever since he had further contact with the Yu Family, Zhu Junyang had also become more and more impolite with Yu Xiaocao. He used to politely call her ‘Miss Yu’. Now, he not only called her directly by her given name, but he also ordered her like she was his servant. He always commanded her to do either this or that; Yu Xiaocao was almost annoyed to death by him!
“Neither deaf nor mute! The cook can’t be distracted while cooking, otherwise, the food that comes out won’t be edible! Young Royal Prince, go stay where you are supposed to stay!” Yu Xiaocao had also found out the truth about the Young Royal Prince’s temper. He looked ruthless, but he wasn’t actually that aloof and didn’t seem that bad-tempered. At least, after being in contact with him so much, she had never seen him really lose his temper. Yu Xiaocao, who didn’t have the consciousness of someone from the lower class, was speaking more impolitely to him the more tired she became.
Madam Liu and the rest of the family broke out in cold sweat from her antics from time to time. The royal prince looked young but he wasn’t easy to get along with. If she infuriated the royal prince, getting hit with wooden planks would be the lightest punishment she would receive while losing her life could be the harshest punishment. Wasn’t this how the plays always turned out? Their little daughter was really brave to challenge the royal prince’s bottom line over and over again.
“I think the kitchen is a pretty good place. Staying here wouldn’t be bad!” Zhu Junyang didn’t get angry and even made a rare joke!
Head Steward Liu was so surprised that his chin could have dropped to the ground and hit his foot. This…was this the cold faced prince who scared children into crying and the one who wouldn’t allow strangers close to him? When did he change his personality ah?
Yu Xiaocao was speechless for a moment, “Alright. If you’re not afraid of breathing in oily smoke, then you can stay all you like!”
Zhu Junyang watched as she poured the sauce for the third time and couldn’t help but say, “There are dishes that you can’t make! Actually, I’m not actually that picky. When I was on the boat, I even ate raw fish. Don’t be nervous, just cook it until it’s not raw anymore. I won’t think what you made is bad!”
In truth, he only said that because he didn’t want her to keep attempting only to face failure again and again. Yet, the words that came out of his mouth still made her want to beat him up!
Yu Xiaocao ignored him and finally blended the flavor that she wanted. Only then did she peel the abalones, wash, and scored them with cross-shaped lines on top. Next, she put them in a bowl and added egg whites and starch before evenly mixing it together. She then steamed the abalones for a few minutes in the pot. The abalones she caught was on the larger side, so they needed to be steamed longer before they were cooked all the way through.
She cleaned the fresh mushrooms that she found from the coral, cut them into small pieces, and quickly blanched them in boiling water before taking them out. Then, she sauteed them in oil with ginger, scallion, and garlic. Afterwards, she added the seasoning she had just mixed using savory broth, salt, pepper, MSG, and sesame oil, and simmered the whole mixture into a thick sauce. After the abalone was steamed, she poured the sauce on top. The sweet-smelling honey abalone was finally done!
“It smells authentic, I wonder how it will taste?” Zhu Junyang gently sniffed the fragrance floating in the air and praised.
Yu Xiaocao walked over to him and took the tomato from his hand. She rolled her eyes and said, “This is my first time making it, so I can’t guarantee if the taste is good or bad. Make do with it and eat it! Young Royal Prince, our family is just an ordinary family. In the future, can you please not order dishes with abalones or sea cucumbers?”
“Oh! Are you complaining to me? Your family is just ordinary farmers, yet ten carts of vegetables and seven to eight carts of watermelons are sold every day. Even if a business in town is booming, their monthly income can’t match the money your family is making in a day. I just ate some of your abalones and your heart is already hurting? Stingy!” In front of Yu Xiaocao, Zhu Junyang was no longer the cold-faced prince with few words, one wrong move and he could become a chatterbox! Head Steward Liu had a frightened expression——he couldn’t have followed a fake prince, right?
Yu Xiaocao had a glib tongue, so of course, she wouldn’t lose to him, “Young Royal Prince, we are only making money these past few days. Watermelon is only in season for at most one more month. With just vegetables, how much money can we earn? We, the common people, depend on the weather for food. When we have money, we have to think about the days when we won’t have any money. Unlike you, your salary isn’t going down while you are walking around and free-loading meals off of people. You have a royal occupation, so how can you know the sufferings of the common people ah!”
Zhu Junyang knew about the Yu Family’s situation. When they hadn’t separated from the main family, they didn’t have enough to eat or wear and had to work and be scolded…Thinking of this lass being on the verge of dying several times due to serious illnesses, a tender and protective feeling rose from his heart.
Zhu Junyang softly said, “Don’t worry! As long as the corn and potatoes grow well, the imperial court definitely won’t treat you badly! With your family’s talent in farming, I can help put in some good words with the emperor. Maybe, he’ll approve you to be an agricultural official. At that time, you guys can also eat public meals and receive an imperial salary!”
“No, please don’t!” Yu Xiaocao’s face was so frightened as if he were a monster. Stepping to the side a bit, she continued, “Young Royal Prince, I know that you are trying to be kind, but us, common people, have no roots or foundations in the imperial court. Even if we become a small official, in the ranks of the court, we are still cannon fodder. Let’s not do this, alright?
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