Chapter 199: Tremble, Scumbag 8
Translator Note: Hou Mansion = Marquis Mansion
T/N: I feel like the chapter in this arc is sooooo long~ or is it just me?
Jiang Miaoshi had saved a lot of red beans that she usually wouldn’t eat. She would usually offer them to her ancestors and only use them to make Laba porridge on special occasions.
However, since her daughter-in-law needed them for the pastries, Jiang Miaoshi reluctantly opened her private storage and took out some of her precious red beans.
“These are all good stuff; you must not let them become a waste.”
Making red bean cakes requires a considerable amount of red beans. Jiang Miaoshi looked at the small half-bag of red beans in her hand, feeling like a knife cutting through her heart. She was ready to give the red beans to her daughter-in-law, Bailan, but her hand still tightly clutched the cloth bag, unwilling to let go.
“Lan’er, are you sure you know how to make those pastries? Even though your aunt might have taught you the recipe, I don’t think the Bai family has the conditions to allow you to try it out first?”
The more Jiang Miaoshi thought about it, the more anxious she became that she almost wanted to back out.
“Don’t worry, Mother, I won’t ruin the good stuff.”
Bai Lan promised several times before she finally received enough ingredients from her mother-in-law.
Today, Bai Lan planned to steam a basket of red bean cakes and cook a pot of sweet osmanthus soup.
She learned the red bean cake recipe from the Hou Mansion, which was quite intricate and complex. However, Jiang’s family doesn’t have such good conditions, so many ingredients can only be substituted with alternatives.
For example, the sugar required for making red bean cakes at the Marquis Mansion was good quality honey, while the Jiang family only had roughly refined sugar blocks. Naturally, the red bean cakes made by the Jiang family would not have the same sweet and delicate flavour as those made at the Marquis’s residence.
However, apart from the ingredients, the proportions of various ingredients and the timing of steaming and cooking are equally crucial in making pastries. In this regard, Bai Lan has reached a very high level. At least in their local area, Bai Lan’s culinary skills are top-notch, surpassing even the masters of some well-established pastry shops in the town and county.
“Aren’t you adding too much sugar?”
“Don’t you think you put too much glutinous rice flour?”
“Enough. Stop adding more oil to it!”
While Bailan made the red bean cakes, Jiang Miaoshi watched. She clenched her collar tightly because if she didn’t do so, she was afraid she couldn’t resist the urge to snatch back the ingredients from her daughter-in-law’s hands.
“Mother, the cakes smell so good.”
Jiang Liu pointed to the pot of steaming red bean cake and licked his lips. Jiang Miaoshi could not help but retort: “How could it not be fragrant? So many good ingredients have been used.”
Jiang Miaoshi had a bitter expression on her face. With so much sugar, glutinous rice flour, and her precious red beans, how could the red bean cake not be fragrant? At this point, she could only comfort herself in her heart that at least the good ingredients were not wasted. Even if these red bean cakes couldn’t be sold, they could still satisfy her son’s sweet tooth and cravings.
While steaming the red bean cake, Bai Lan deftly prepared sweet osmanthus soup. The ingredients for this dessert were relatively cheap. It was now early autumn, the best time when osmanthus flowers bloomed the most. Bai Lan took advantage of her free time to pick many osmanthus flowers and used the special techniques she learned at the Marquis mansion to prepare them. The osmanthus fragrance was more potent, and the shape and colour of the osmanthus flowers were preserved more completely.
Bai Lan prefers to pair the sweet osmanthus soup with sticky rice dumplings. Yet, she had used too much glutinous rice flour today. Looking at the current situation, it is evident that Jiang Miaoshi, her mother-in-law, is already reluctant to let her waste more glutinous rice flour. So, Bailan reluctantly chose sweet potato flour as an alternative.
She started to make dumplings using sweet potato flour. The sweet potatoes from last year were particularly fragrant and sweet, and the quality of the sweet potato flour they made was better than in previous years. Bai Lan took a bite of the dumpling, finding it soft, smooth, and sweet—a delightful taste.
The osmanthus fragrance was very dominant. Soon, even the tightly closed kitchen door could not block the aroma of the sweet soup. So naturally, Jiang Hai and Jiang Hu families smelled it.
“Your mother is giving special treatment to that fool again.”
Xu Xiaocao stood by the window and angrily closed it to reduce the scent coming in.
Previously, when she heard that Jiang Liu had injured his brain and become retarded, Xu Xiaocao felt a burst of joy. She was happy that their family could split up in time so they wouldn’t be bothered by that fool, Jiang Liu. She was also pleased that Jiang Miaoshi, that biased old woman, had received her comeuppance. Now her most beloved son has become a fool, and if she wants someone to rely on in her old age, Jiang Miaoshi would probably have to lower her head and beg their first and second households for help. At that time, Xu Xiaocao could also use it to demand that Jiang Miaoshi transfer the house and land that she had unfairly given to their third sibling to their household.
However, she had been happy for so many days, yet Jiang Miaoshi had not come begging as she had expected. On the contrary, the old woman and Bai Lan were only sad for a few days before quickly picking themselves up and returning to work in the fields. Today, they even had the energy to make delicious food, which made Xu Xiaocao feel even more uncomfortable.
“Meihua, go to your grandma’s place and ask for food. You’re her granddaughter, and she won’t refuse to give you any.”
Xu Xiaocao’s mind was calculating frantically. Her eldest son and second son were too old, while her young daughter was at an age where she had a big appetite. Hence, even if she went to the third household to ask for food, no one could blame her as a mother for not teaching her properly.
The little girl didn’t think much of it and happily ran to her uncle’s house to ask her grandmother for some delicious food.
It seemed that Liu Cui, the wife of the second household, had the same idea. Her beloved son, Jiang Sanniu, had been crying and fussing for good food since he smelled the sweet scent from the third household’s kitchen. Liu Cui was worried about her son, but she didn’t know what was going on in the third house, so she decided to let her son go to the third house and ask for some food.
In Liu Cui’s view, her Sanniu was the only grandson of the second household. For the sake of this grandson, the old lady wouldn’t refuse.
“Go, go, go!”
Xu Xiaocao and Liu Cui’s plan has gone awry again. Jiang Miaoshi looked at her grandchildren, holding bowls and walking towards her, and bluntly chased them away.
“If you want to eat delicious food, go ask your parents. This family has split up. I don’t expect any filial piety from you. Instead, you have the nerve to criticize me, an old lady. God, why don’t you strike those heartless people with lightning and kill them all!”
In the past, before the family split up, if there was good food at home, Jiang Miaoshi didn’t mind sharing it with her male grandchildren after satisfying her beloved son.
But now, things are different. When the family split up, Xu Xiaocao and others hurt her feelings. Plus, ever since her beloved son became retarded, the two brothers and sisters-in-law living in the same courtyard had not even considered showing concern. These factors made Jiang Miaoshi change her attitude towards them entirely.
Furthermore, how many good things did Bai Lan’s pastries cost her? The eldest daughter-in-law and the second daughter-in-law didn’t bring anything but sent their two children to beg for food. Where in the world could such a good thing be found?
Jiang Meihua was somewhat afraid of her grandmother, Jiang Miaoshi. So, she ran away as soon as she was chased out.
Jiang Sanniu was spoiled by Jiang Hu and Liu Cui at home, becoming a little tyrant who did as he pleased. His older sisters had to serve him like a horse or a cow. Therefore, when Jiang Miaoshi refused to give him any pastries, he began to cry and throw a tantrum.
Unfortunately, even though he cried until he was hoarse, Jiang Miaoshi didn’t budge.
“Where are those dead people? Even when their son cries, they don’t come to comfort him. These cunning and wicked women who bring chaos to the family…”
Liu Cui was hiding inside the house. Her face turned red angrily as she listened to the old lady curse. Wasn’t it just a piece of pastry? How could this old hag not even spare a bit for her son to eat?
“Don’t cry, Niu Niu. I’ll take you to the town tomorrow to buy osmanthus cakes.”
Liu Cui made countless promises to soothe the little tyrant in the family, who finally stopped crying and smiled. However, when evening came and Jiang Hu returned from the fields, Liu Cui immediately reported her mother-in-law and the third household deeds, deepening the conflicts between the two sides.
Jiang Miaoshi doesn’t care what her first and second sons think of her. In their hearts, she is just a biased old lady, and she doesn’t expect these two sons to support her in her old age.
The red bean cake is steamed and ready. The first piece is naturally for the elder, Jiang Miaoshi, to eat.
“This red bean cake tastes good.”
Jiang Miaoshi felt sorry for the ingredients used in making the pastries and couldn’t bear to eat the piece of red bean cake that Bai Lan had cut for her. She used her fingers to break off a tiny bit and put it in her mouth. Then, she closed her eyes and savoured the sweet flavour of the red bean cake, enjoying it attentively.
The texture of the red bean cake is delicate, and the sweetness is just right without being too cloying. Jiang Miaoshi reluctantly swallows the piece in her mouth and then hands her son Jiang Liu the remaining half of the cake.
“Cut a small piece for Dahu-zi (big tiger) and take the rest to sell in town tomorrow.”
Jiang Miaoshi looked at the whole steamer of red bean cakes, calculating that it cost at least fifty to sixty coins in terms of monetary value. She thought it would be a waste for her and Bai Lan to eat them, so it would be better to let the two young men in the household have a taste of them instead.
The old lady slightly prefers male offspring, and it’s not just her who thinks so. This is how people all over the world think now.
Bai Lan also thinks that her son, Jiang Dahu is more important than her daughter Jiang Zhuhua. It was just that in her previous life, she felt more indebted to her daughter, so her currently unborn daughter barely reached a position of balance with her son, Jiang Dahu.
So Bai Lan doesn’t have any thoughts about Jiang Miaoshi’s words. She cuts a small piece of red bean cake for her son in front of her mother-in-law and then keeps the rest in the locked cabinet.
As for the sweet potato balls and sweet osmanthus, soup can’t be stored for long, so everyone in the family has a share, including Jiang Miaoshi and Bai Lan, who each take a large bowl.
“The sweet potato balls taste good too, but they’re not easy to take to town.”
Jiang Miaoshi is impressed by this bowl of sweet soup. Eating sweets can make people happy, and the old lady’s frowning face relaxed.
“By the way, how much do you plan to sell this red bean cake for?”
Perhaps realizing the value of her daughter-in-law’s baking skills, Jiang Miaoshi treats her more cautiously now. Previously, the old lady would not have asked for Bai Lan’s opinion and would have set the price of the cakes herself.
“In the beginning, the price cannot be set too high. Otherwise, no one will buy them, so I want to sell them for three coins per small piece.”
Bai Lan pointed to the red bean cake before her son, Jiang Dahua. This piece of red bean cake was about the thickness of a child’s little finger and three finger joints long and wide. The large red bean cake that Bai Lan made today could be cut into over a hundred pieces of this size.
“Is it too expensive?” Jiang Miaoshi hesitated, afraid that no one would be willing to spend money to buy it.
“It’s not expensive. Our ingredients are delicious, red beans, white sugar, glutinous rice flour, oil… The red bean cakes in the old pastry shops are about the same price, and the taste may not be as good as the one I make with this recipe.”
Bai Lan’s price was not high. She didn’t plan to make a fortune from this one red bean cake. Bailan intended to promote the popularity of her red bean cake and attract those old pastry shops to buy her recipe. She wanted to use the money from selling red bean cake recipes to buy a small shop and then sell breakfast and snacks.
In her previous life, Bai Lan worked as a helper and cook in Marquis’s household for over ten years. She knew a lot of recipes for delicacies that were not available in this era, and she was confident in making money with this skill.
She wanted her son Dahu to study and her daughter to live like a delicate lady with a rich dowry in the future. Therefore, she had to make money and make a lot of money.
Regarding the ingredients for making red bean cake, Jiang Miaoshi does not think the three cents per piece are expensive. The meat buns in the town cost two cents each, and her ingredients are not cheaper than pork. She can always lower the price when the red bean cakes don’t sell.
Jiang Miaoshi looked at her son enjoying the sweet osmanthus soup and felt no hesitation in her heart.
“My Lucky Star, you must obediently carry these things to town. When we get to the market, I’ll give you a piece of red bean cake to eat.”
Bai Lan walked lightly beside Jiang Liu while he carried the load on his shoulder with a noticeably heavy step.
As someone who had always lived a life of ease, with food and clothing provided at his fingertips, carrying heavy items with his body like this made him feel tired in no time. Jiang Liu’s breathing became heavy, clearly struggling to carry the load. By the time they had walked halfway, sweat had already started to bead on the tip of his nose.
“Do you remember the taste of red bean cake? Fragrant, sweet, soft, and chewy. Do you want to eat another piece, Lucky Star?”
Bai Lan noticed Jiang Liu’s difficulty and tried to entice him with food.
“I want to, I want to eat cake, but Lucky Star is so tired. Wife, can Lucky Star rest for a bit?”
Jiang Liu licked his lips, feeling his strength returning with the thought of the delicious treat.
“When we get to the market, you can rest as long as you want, Lucky Star.”
Bai Lan couldn’t help but feel a bit soft-hearted seeing Jiang Liu’s naive and silly appearance. However, being soft-hearted was only temporary, and she hardened her heart in the end.
“By the way, Lucky Star, do you remember what we agreed on?”
Throughout the journey, Bai Lan did not forget to brainwash Jiang Liu.
“I remember; I won’t tell anyone that Lucky Star carries these things.”
“Well, wife is someone to be cherished, and Da Hu is to be protected.”
With each question and answer, Bai Lan was satisfied with Jiang Liu’s responses. At this moment, his memories were stuck in his childhood. There was still room for training and transformation for this immature man. In their previous life, Jiang Liu disappointed her, but in this life, she would train him to become the most qualified husband and father.
“But wife, can you not let Dahu snatch my snacks? Lucky Star is only four years old, and it’s the age to eat snacks.”
Jiang Liu had a headache. He had fallen asleep and woken up to find himself with a wife and a son. His wife made him work, and his son snatched his snacks. He was the most pitiful baby in the world.
“Ha ha ha…”
Bai Lan tried to suppress her laughter but eventually gave in and burst out laughing.
She looked at the silly man looking at her with confusion, not knowing why she burst out laughing, and her heart softened even more.
The little fool didn’t do anything wrong. It was the future him who made the mistake. She shouldn’t have asked the little fool to pay off the debt for that scumbag.
This was a voice in Bai Lan’s mind.
No, he should pay off the debt because whether it’s him now or in the future, it’s still him.
This was another voice speaking.
Bai Lan’s upturned mouth returned to its original state, and she lowered her eyes, not knowing what she was thinking.
The nearest market to Jiang Village was more than an hour’s journey away. Jiang Liu was carrying a heavy load, so it took him longer on the road.
Bai Lan and the others set out before the sun had risen. When they left home, it was still dark outside, but by the time they reached the town, the day had already brightened.
The market was bustling at this time, with many farmers carrying vegetables from their fields and selling them along the streets. There were also many shops selling breakfast foods on either side of the road, and the aroma of buns and noodle soup kept wafting into people’s noses.
Bai Lan arrived relatively late, and since they had never set up a stall in the market before, they didn’t have many options for a location. Bai Lan chose a relatively good spot to put down the things they had brought and then wrapped the red bean cakes in cotton blankets to keep them warm.
In the instant when she uncovered the white gauze, the still-warm red bean cakes emitted a rich and sweet fragrance, attracting the attention of many people.
The red bean cakes made by Bai Lan looked better than half of the other red bean cakes there. The colour was pure, the cutting was perfect, and when they shook, they trembled and shimmered like beautiful, dazzling red agate.
“How much are these red bean cakes?”
Soon someone came to ask for the price.
“Three cents for one piece, three pieces for eight cents,” Bai Lan had already decided on the pricing.
“Your red bean cake is too expensive. Wu Fang Zhai [Five Fragrance House] sells it for the same price, and they are an old brand.”
Upon hearing this price, many people hesitated and backed away. It was better to buy three coins a piece from the renowned pastry shops instead.
Bai Lan had no experience in selling things. She just thought her stuff was excellent and worth that price. So when she saw many people asking but not buying, Bai Lan began to doubt whether her pricing was correct.
“Wife, I want to eat some cake.”
After a while, Bai Lan sold two pieces of red bean cake. Seeing that the cakes had cooled down completely, they were not as delicious as when they were warm.
Jiang Liu cautiously poked Bai Lan’s arm and looked at the cut pieces of red bean cake with desire.
Initially, Bai Lan had lied to Jiang Liu that she would give him some red bean cake to get him to help carry things for her. But when she saw Jiang Liu’s clear eyes, Bai Lan felt guilty.
“Just one piece, and it’s gone once you eat it.”
She chose a small piece that was accidentally cut, which she had prepared to give to those who bought more cakes.
Fortunately, being four years old, Jiang Liu did not understand these things. He happily ate the red bean cake he had been longing for.
Before going out, Jiang Miaoshi had tidied up her son’s appearance. Now in the bustling market, Jiang Liu had become a beautiful scenery. Watching him eat the red bean cake like he was savouring a delicacy, many people couldn’t help but salivate.
Is this red bean cake really that delicious?
It only cost three cents. If it’s not tasty, don’t repurchase it.
Many people had this thought in their minds, especially some elderly aunts. They couldn’t resist buying a piece of red bean cake to take home and please their grandchildren, especially after seeing Jiang Liu’s clean, cute face and well-behaved demeanour.
The originally unsold red bean cakes suddenly became popular. Bai Lan saw that most of them were sold quickly and felt complicated.
She never expected that the key to selling her pastries was not their quality but the face of this little fool. It was frustrating to think about it.
Unfortunately, the little fool didn’t know his wife’s complicated feelings at this time. After eating that small piece of red bean cake, he licked his lips and secretly reached into the box containing the cake, wanting to steal another piece to taste.
His behaviour indirectly proved that the red bean cake was indeed delicious. Otherwise, why would he steal another piece after already eating one?
Soon, the remaining red bean cakes were also sold out. It took less than half an hour, which exceeded Bailan’s expectations.
Jiang Liu pouted. He hadn’t stolen any red bean cake yet.
The people around also noticed that this young man seemed to have some issues with his brain, but Jiang Liu dressed neatly and had a sufficiently handsome appearance. Despite being a bit silly, he was even more endearing and didn’t make people feel annoyed in the slightest.
The passing people looked at Jiang Liu with sympathetic and pitying eyes, but no one pointed and mocked him.
“I’ll make some for you to eat at home.”
The red bean cakes were sold out, and Bailan’s mood was excellent. Seeing the sad expression on the little fool’s face, her heart naturally became softer.
She comforted herself in her heart, telling herself this wasn’t her forgiving the scumbag but merely her reward to the little fool for selling his charm.
Thinking like this, Bailan no longer felt guilty about her past self.
With such thoughts, Bai Lan no longer felt guilty towards her past self in her previous life.
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