After Mrs. Yang left, Xiaoguo closed the door and returned to the kitchen to work on the mutton skewers.
“Mother, why did Aunt come over?”
Zhuang Zhuang thought that it was odd when he saw Mrs. Yang take the donkey.
Xiaoguo explained, “Aunt is driving to the county. She is helping me to buy some things.”
Zhuang Zhuang asked curiously.
“Buy the herbs for making sour plum soup. When we eat mutton tomorrow, we can drink this soup. It’s sour and sweet.”
Zhuang Zhuang had never heard of sour plum soup, but he nodded happily. He was looking forward to the sweet and sour taste.
Just as Xiaoguo had expected, the two of them couldn’t finish threading all the skewers even when Mrs. Yang returned at noon.
Xiaoguo washed away the oil on her hands before taking the herbs from Mrs. Yang.
Mrs. Yang wanted Xiaoguo to check if everything was there. Xiaoguo didn’t even look at the herbs and went in to get the money.
The herbs didn’t cost a lot. The only expensive thing was the rock sugar. Xiaoguo returned to her room and took out a silver coin for Mrs. Yang.
Mrs. Yang did not stand on ceremony with her. She took the money and said goodbye before carrying the bags home.
She had to go back and get things ready, so that when tomorrow comes, her family can enjoy a good Mid-Autumn Festival together.
Xiaoguo walked Mrs. Yang to the door. She returned to the house and brought the herbs to the kitchen.
Zhuang Zhuang put down the skewer in his hand and came to Xiaoguo’s side. He stared at the waxed paper package, seemingly able to see the contents inside.
Xiaoguo didn’t tease him. She quickly untied the rope to reveal the contents.
Zhuang Zhuang exclaimed in surprise and picked up something black.
“Mother, what is this?”
As he spoke, he leaned over and sniffed it. The smell was sweet!
His eyes lit up. “These herbs are sweet?”
Xiaoguo could tell at a glance that he was holding a smoked plum, so she asked him to try it.
Zhuang Zhuang only dared to taste the plum when he heard Xiaoguo’s words.
“It’s so sour…”
Zhuang Zhuang scrunched up his face and looked like an old man at that instant.
Xiaoguo laughed out loud at his expression.
Even though it was very sour, Zhuang Zhuang didn’t want to let the plum go to waste. He ate it up albeit with some difficulty.
He then stuck out his tongue and sought comfort from Xiaoguo.
Xiaoguo hugged him and patted his butt gently. She felt curious. Although she had the impression that smoked plums are sour, they shouldn’t be that sour.
Xiaoguo reached out for one in order to find out.
As soon as it entered her mouth, the sour taste shot through her head.
Zhuang Zhuang looked at Xiaoguo’s heroic behavior and was a little dumbfounded. His mother was so amazing!
It was Xiaoguo’s turn to look wrinkly like an old lady. But looking at Zhuang Zhuang’s admiring gaze, she tried to tolerate the sour taste and tried her best to show a nonchalant expression. “Is that it?”
Without even chewing, she swallowed the plum.
With tears in her eyes, Xiaoguo made a decision. She will add more rock sugar in the soup later on.
“Mother, when are we making the sour plum soup?”
Xiaoguo cleared her throat. “We’ll do it in the afternoon.”
After the sour plum soup was done, Xiaoguo let it cool down before putting it in the fridge. After chilling it overnight, it will be cold and nice when they drink it tomorrow.
After a simple lunch, Xiaoguo and Zhuang Zhuang continued threading the skewers.
Xiaoguo also went out to slaughter the fish. Then, she returned to the house and marinated the fish with wine and ginger to remove the fishy smell.
Xiaoguo remembered that the cumin had not been ground yet. She will sprinkle cumin onto the mutton when grilling it.
Moreover, she had to prepare some garlic sauce for brushing onto the vegetables and fish, so as to enhance their flavors.
Thinking about all the things she had to do, she sped up the pace at which she was working. She had better finish threading the skewers first.
In less than two hours, Xiaoguo and Zhuang Zhuang had finished skewering all the ingredients.
Xiaoguo put all the skewers into the fridge. The next step was to prepare the sauce and cumin powder.
Zhuang Zhuang went to peel the garlic while Xiaoguo started preparing the other ingredients.
When Zhuang Zhuang was done with the garlic, Xiaoguo minced them up using the mortar.
Then, she added some oil into the pot. The ratio of oil to garlic was about 1 to 2. When the oil was hot enough, she put in the garlic and started frying.
“Zhuang Zhuang, go pick some millet peppers for me.”
Zhuang Zhuang ran out happily. Soon, he came in with a handful of millet peppers.
Xiaoguo took the chilis from him and rinsed them with water. Then she minced them and threw them into the pot after the garlic was ready.
Before removing the chili paste from the pot, she added some salt. Then she poured everything into the big bowl that Zhuang Zhuang had prepared for her.
With the garlic sauce done, there was only cumin powder left.
Using the mortar, she crushed the cumin seeds into a grainy mixture. She felt that the coarseness of the cumin would add texture to the food and make them more flavorful.
After preparing all the food, Xiaoguo stood in the kitchen, thinking about what else she had to do.
Seeing that Xiaoguo had stopped moving, Zhuang Zhuang asked Xiaoguo curiously, “Mother, when are we going to make sour plum soup?”
“That’s right! Let’s make it now!”
Xiaoguo was still thinking about what to do when Zhuang Zhuang reminded her. She suddenly remembered that there was still sour plum soup!
Rolling up her sleeves, Xiaoguo was full of energy. Even Zhuang Zhuang was inexplicably excited.
After cleaning the big pot, Xiaoguo added the herbs accordingly. As the plums were much more sour than she had thought, Xiaoguo added additional rock sugar to the mixture in the pot.
After all the ingredients were added, she got Zhuang Zhuang to light the fire.
This soup was easy to prepare. She still remembered that her mother would make it for her every day during her summer vacations.
Thinking of her mother, Xiaoguo’s eyes were immediately filled with sadness.
Zhuang Zhuang had just lit the fire when he looked up at Xiaoguo. He realized that she was not moving and looked preoccupied. He wondered what was on her mind.
Xiaoguo came back to her senses and looked at Zhuang Zhuang. She suppressed her emotions and smiled. She still had Zhuang Zhuang.
Zhuang Zhuang could sense that something was on Xiaoguo’s mind, but he did not continue asking.
He was afraid that his mother would be sad.
He lowered his head and continued stuffing firewood into the stove.
Xiaoguo perked up. She recalled that Zhuang Zhuang had been busy all day and he had not eaten yet. She was feeling a little hungry. He must be hungry too.
Xiaoguo thought of the mooncakes. She had yet to open the mooncakes that she had made that day. Zhuang Zhuang had not tried them either.
With this thought in mind, she turned around and opened the jar, revealing the glossy mooncakes inside.
Xiaoguo took out two pieces. She handed one to Zhuang Zhuang and took one for herself.
Zhuang Zhuang wiped his hands and took the mooncake. He looked at it curiously. “So this is the bean paste salted egg yolk mooncake?”
Licking his lips, he raised his head, intending to offer it to Xiaoguo. However, when he looked up, he saw Xiaoguo waving a piece at him.
Xiaoguo knew that Zhuang Zhuang would offer his mooncake to her. When he looked up, she waved the mooncake at him to show that she also had one.
Zhuang Zhuang chuckled and lowered his head to take a bite.
Xiaoguo took a bite as well. Yes, this was the taste that she was craving!
Xiaoguo wondered if it was because she was hungry. “Why does it taste so good?”
Zhuang Zhuang had the same thought. “Why is this bean paste salted egg yolk so delicious!”
Mother and son didn’t have time to talk. They finished their mooncake in a few bites.
At this moment, a fragrance was wafting out of the pot. Xiaoguo stood up and lifted the lid. The dark reddish soup was bubbling. Xiaoguo picked up a spoon and stirred it.
Zhuang Zhuang stood up and looked inside. He couldn’t believe that the soup could be taken just like medicine.
Seeing Zhuang Zhuang’s doubtful expression, Xiaoguo scooped a bowl for him using a spoon.
She blew on the soup and handed the bowl to Zhuang Zhuang when it had cooled down.
Zhuang Zhuang brought it to his mouth and pursed his lips tentatively. Then, he gulped it down.
He put down the bowl and burped.
“Mother, it’s so delicious!”
“It will taste better when it’s cold.”
After transferring the soup out from the pot and letting it cool, she would store it in the fridge. It will taste even better tomorrow!
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