Chapter 58: Sold Out
Holdmydonuts: I started reading fanfiction at the age when answering comments this way is perfectly normal, and I really like this style. Happy Mooncakes Festival to you!
Kirindas: As always, XXX!
“Brother, help me out!” It was early morning, Wen Rou was dragging a metal trough out from the wood store out into the garden.
“What are you doing? Weirdo!” Wen Ting pulled Wen Rou aside and, huffing and puffing, helped her to drag the metal trough.
“Rou’er, still restless so early in the morning!” Wen Shouzhen, who was helping Zhou’shi  with breakfast, popped his head out, “What do you plant to do with that broken iron trough?”
“Dad, I want to ask for a few days off. I won’t be going to the Drunken Immortal for a few days!” There was a secretive look on Wen Rou’s face.
“Days off? Just because you’re a natural at cooking you want to goof off, has this brat lead you astray?” Wen Shouzhen turned an angry face at Wen Ting, and shouted the last part.
“Nothing to do with me!” Wen Ting held up his hands in protest.
“Dad, it really has nothing to do with brother.” Wen Rou said.
“Hey, Rou’er has already been learning cooking with you for over half a month. As a young lady she’s already naturally fragile, why don’t you just let her rest? She can return after a few days!” Zhou’shi advice from the side.
“Yo, what are you all doing standing around an iron trough so early in the morning?” It was Wen Shoucheng bringing his family over for breakfast.
“Brother, sister, these are some barley cakes I just baked yesterday. I’ve brought them over just for all of you to try them!” Wang’shi said, fishing out some bright golden cakes from a bag.
“Third auntie, the dough is kneaded by me.” Wen Ya said proudly.
“Hey Rou’er, since you’ve learnt some cooking skills, when can we taste test your skills?” Wen Shoucheng said jokingly.
“Uncle, when I’m free I’ll definitely make something for everyone to try!” Wen Rou laughed.
“Second Brother, why is everyone so early, ah.” Wen Shoucheng turned to address Wen Shuochai as he shuffled in dispiritedly.
“He’s not early! He’s just home late! See those black circles under his eyes! No need to ask, you’ve gone gambling and haven’t slept a bit, ba?” Wen Shouzhen said crossly.
“Third Brother, can’t you word it a little nicely? There are children around.” Wen Shouchai retorted with a red face.
“Dad, if you pay careful attention to second uncle’s eyes. It’s not bloodshot, it’s depression. He must have lost a lot when gambling.”
“Leave, do you even have any right to speak?” Wen Shouchai lifted his leg threateningly.
“Second uncle, do you have anything to do today?” Wen Rou smoothly asked as she helped to serve breakfast.
“How could your second uncle uncle ever have anything important to do?” Wang’shi chimed in.
“Elder sister in law! I don’t gamble everyday! Also, isn’t it almost _?_? I’m sure my luck would change soon, _?_ is just the right time to give the children some money!” Wen Shouchai said, and quickly stuffed a barley cake into his mouth.
“Second uncle, when have you ever given us any money? It’s good enough if you don’t beg us for money!” Wen Ting proceeded to throw rocks down the well.
“You little brat! You need a spanking!” Wen Shouchai was now very angry and got up to advance over to Wen Ting.
“You two fight outside! Don’t waste food!” Wen Shoucheng immediately showed his big brother attitude.
“Second uncle, if you’re free today let’s go and play, ba!” Wen Rou gave Wen Shouchai a significant look.
Wen Shouchai was stunned, although he did not understand what kind of medicine Wen Rou had swallowed today, he figured that this was the best way to avoid a humiliating scene and quickly nodded.
“Very good! Third brother, today I’ll be bringing Rou’er around. With me looking after Rou’er you can rest assured!”
“What is there to not worry?!” Wen Shouxhen snorted, and said, “You worry about behaving yourself, Rou’er please help me look after your second uncle.”
After breakfast, everyone rushed off to do their own thing.
Wen Rou pulled Wen Shouchai aside, “Second uncle, sorry to bother you, but could you help me?”
“Help you? Why?” Wen Shouchai way thinking was a bit simple.
“Second uncle, this is a great money making opportunity, won’t it be great to earn some spending money? When the time comes, you’ll be able to give us kids some spending money and show off your generosity.” Wen Rou said.
“Earn money? Do you think your uncle is the type to be moved by mere money? Really! Talk, just what are you planning?” Wen Shouchai continued to approach her as he spoke.[… …]
“Help me carry this! And get me some firewood!” Wen Rou pointed at the metal trough and then at the tree.
“Ugh, so tiring!” Wen Shouchai did not quarrel with her any more, but lifted the metal trough and a bundle of fire wood.
Wen Rou quickly trotted into the kitchen, took advantage of of Zhou’shi’s absence grabbed some dry biscuits as well as a few other ingredients, some flint, and lead Wen Shouchai out.
“Little Rou’er, where are we going?” Wen Shouchai was sitting in the carriage with the cold metal trough hugged against his chest.
“To the south part of the city, Qing Shi Street! We Rou smiled mysteriously as she called out to the carriage driver.
After a while…
“Second uncle, carriage fare!” Wen Rou leapt off the carriage.
“How could I have any, ah? Didn’t you ask me to help you out? There’s no reason for me to pay the carriage fare!” Wen Shouchai stuck both hands into his pockets, his face taking the appearance of a metal rooster , sniffing and muttering to himself.
“Aih! I thought about asking second uncle to come up with the carriage fare as part of your investment for the money making project. When it’s time to split the profit, we’ll go halfsies. But, it’s all fine, I’ll pay, I’ll pay. I have some money from the sale of wine dad gave me!” Wen Rou pretended to rummage through her wallet.
“Ah? Halfsies? As in 50-50? For real?” Wen Shouchai’s eyes were like a pair of marbles that were about to pop out.
“For real!” Wen Rou said earnestly.
“Driver! How much, ah?” Wen Shouchai asked with high spirits.
“Hei-hei, customer, it’s five copper coins!”
“Take it!” Wen Shouchai lifted his foot and dug around the bottom of his shoe and picked out a few copper coins, fished out exactly five pieces and tucked the rest away into its original place.
“This…” the driver stared the coins on the palm of Wen Shouchai’s hand, heat still wafting off sinisterly from the coins.He was really not sure whether to take them or not.
“Just take it, ah! All money are smells sweet!” Wen Shouchai waggled his eyebrows. Time wriggled past awkwardly.
“Aih…” The driver finally covered his hand with the edge of his sleeves, and accepted the money with a pained face, sighing gustily to himself.
“No wonder these days second uncle’s walk is a little slow, it turns out that second uncle has the universe under his feet, ah” Wen Rou said with a smile.
The two of them spent some time idly gossiping with each other, Wen Shouchai setting up the metal trough under Wen Rou’s instructions, filling it with charcoal and burning it until the yellow flames had settled into a gentle and steady burn.
Wen Rou proceeded to set out some small steamed rolls, and to cut up some dried biscuits into thin slices, stuck them onto metal skewers and placed it onto the metal trough.
In a short while, a light smoke started to float up, the fragrance of toasted bread got stronger and stronger!
Wen Rou continued to flip the bread rolls and biscuit skewers, occasionally painting them with rapeseed oil and dusting them with salt.
Slowly, the surface began to turn golden brown and crispy, the surface of the bread split apart, and waved with the heat as though it was actually breathing.
With the added salt and other spices, the original sweet taste of the bread took on a stronger, more exotic flavour.
With the various fragrance dancing in the air, all six organs within the body were hooked, those who smelt it grew hungry.
Wen Shouchai stretched out his neck as he stared, unable to resist swallowing.
Just where did this little brat learn this trick, he had never seen third brother use this technique, ah!
“Little Rou’er, give your second uncle one stick, ba. After all, you have so many.” Wen Shouchai could no longer resist the temptation.
“Sure thing! But, second uncle, once you’ve eaten my toasted bread, you must help me advertise, ya! I plan to set up a stall here from now on!” Wen Rou smiled as she handed him a skewered bun.
“Of course! Of course!” Wen Shouchai smiled as he accepted the skewer, unable to resist biting into the piping hot bun. Fragrant and hot, it really made a person want to just chomp into the whole thing in one big bite.
After burning his mouth a few times, Wen Shouchai finally decided to blow on the bread first.
“Little Rou’er, this roll is really fragrant, ah. How much do you plan to sell this?” Wen Shouchai finally finished eating.
“One copper coin per stick.” Said Wen Rou.
“Toasted bread rolls! Fragrant and crispy bread rolls! Hot off the grill!” Wen Shouchai did not wait for further explanation and started hollering, doing quite a decent job advertising.
“Second uncle, if you ever decide to go into sales, you’ll definitely make it big!” Wen Rou said admiringly.
Wen Shouchai gave a little hei-hei laugh and yelled even more energetically!
It being the morning of the 12th lunar month, the cold northern winds obligingly blew the fragrance of the toasted bread down the streets, enticing the people who were just passing by.
“One for one copper coin.”
“Give me two!”
“En, it’s very good!”
“Fragrant, so fragrant!”
Though there were not many people around, all those who crossed this path were immediately drawn over by the smell of grilling bread.
“Hey, Rou’er, why have you chosen such a miserable place to sell your bread? With this kind of skill, if you peddle your wares at the market the only fear you have is customers over running your stall.” Wen Shouchai was so cold that he had to stamp his feet to keep warm
“Second uncle, please stop with the silly talk. Don’t you know that anyone who does business at the market have to pay a protection fee? How could it be compared to this nice and quiet place? After all, we’re only here to make some extra pocket change, hei-hei!” Wen Rou scattered a handful of cumin, and poked at the hot coals with a chopstick.
“Miss Wen Rou?” A very familiar voice floated towards them.
“Young Master Ren, what a coincidence!” Wen Rou widened her eyes, faking a surprised look as she raised her voice in shock. In her heart, she said happily, ‘My biggest worry is you not coming.’
“What are these?” Ren Yue approached the grill with curiosity.
“Is Young Master Ren going out, ah? I’m just making some grilled bread. Would you like some?” Even as she said this, she quickly flipped over a few sticks, showing off the golden sides of the bread and releasing an even stronger fragrance into the air.
“Oh? I’m just out for a breath of fresh air.” Ren Yue said as he tied up Ying Xue’s reins to a willow tree next to him.
What going out for fresh air, clearly you are going out to find food! Seeing Wen Rou grilling something fragrant, he found an excuse to hang around.
Wen Rou smiled, and casually handed over a skewer to him. There was a faint layer of salt over the bread, topped by fine bits of cumin. She had also added a layer of chicken’s egg onto the bread surface.
The golden yolk of the eggy liquid wrapped around the bread in a thin layer, oil from the bread made the egg pop and bubble, a sound that really entices the appetite!
“This is…?” Ren Yue approached, appearing a little doubtful.
He had never eaten such a simple and rustic kind of food, moreover, street food?
“Please try it, this toasted bread is best eaten hot!” Wen Rou smiled beguilingly, go ahead and eat, ba! Looking at your condition, you certainly haven’t eaten anything last night!
Ren Yue stared at the bubbling bread, lost in thought.
“What’s this smell, ah?” Shui Mo stuck his head out.
“We can smell it all the way from inside, so fragrance came the front of our house! Young Master Ren, how could you just come by yourself and not call us? Yi, Miss, it’s you?!” Shui Mo and Wen Rou were similar in ages, though he’s clearly better dressed, he still carried some childish way of speaking.
“I’ve only just came out and encountered Miss Wen, here, have this one on me.” Ren Yue smiled, and held out the skewered bread to Shui Mo.
“Young Master Ren, please eat it quickly, I made yours especially mild. I have others here.” Wen Rou said as she quickly produced another piece, this one with added seasoning and gave that to Shui Mo.
“Many thanks to Miss Wen! En, very tasty! Ss, this is just too delicious, la!” Shui Mo immediately took a large bite, though the bread was piping hot, but the crispy skin combined with the sweet bun and various seasoning was just too amazing, it immediately awakened Shui Mo’s dried up appetite.
No need to ask, last night’s dinner was definitely Scallion Noodles!
“Uncle Sheng, there’s something good to eat here!” Shui Mo lifted his head and yelled towards the house.
“Miss Wen, your culinary skills are unexpectedly good!” Shui Mo did not bother to see if Chang Sheng came out, and ate another skewer.
“Fragrant, so fragrant! Miss Wen, you don’t have to go to the restaurant today?” Chang Sheng trotted out of the house, looking at Wen Rou in astonishment.
“Oh, I’ve just ask for some leave to develop some new side dishes, Uncle Sheng, do come and try some!” Wen Rou also imitated Shui Mo and called out loudly to Uncle Mo, in her hand was a skewered grilled bun.
Uncle Sheng ate the bun in two or three bites, smacked his lips and rubbed the oil off his bottom lip with his sleeves, looking like he had caught a glimpse of heaven.
Ren Yue, seeing the other two eating so happily, took a small nibble. The taste of fresh egg danced upon his taste buds. The crispy skin of the bread, made from finely sliced biscuits was sweet. Combined with the mild salty taste, the flavour balance was like a heaven’s cloak made without a seam, blended effortlessly together.
“Little Rou’er, gimme another one!” Wen Shouchai seeing those two eating so happily could no longer resist wanting another skewer.
“Second uncle can certainly have another one, but you must pay, ha!” Wen Rou grinned.
In a short time, Shui Mo, Chang Sheng, Wen Shouchai and Ren Yue ate quite a few skewers between them, leaving a whole pile of sticks beside the trough.
“Who’s making all that racket?” A voice emerged.
“Teacher!” Ren Yue lightly dabbed at the crumbs on his mouth with a handkerchief.
“What are all of you doing here?” Sir Song Tao strolled out with his hands clasped behind his back.
“Teacher, Miss Wen is grilling bread rolls here, one copper coin each, please try it. It’s just too delicious!” Shui Mo movement was very quick as he dashed to the side, revealing Wen Rou and her stall.
“Oh? It’s you again?” Sir Song Tao clearly remembered the flavours of those delicious native dishes. Moreover, since he had spent the last few days cooking his own meals, making only bland vegetarian dishes, just looking at Wen Rou made him a little hungry.
“Good day, Sir Song Tao!” Wen Rou greeted him with refined elegance and courtesy, not even a thread of hostility on her face.
This little brat seemed quite magnanimous! Sir Song Tao thought quietly and nodded to himself.
“Good day, little missy! Just what are you selling, ah? This old man wish to try some too!” Sir Song Tao said as he moved forward, his eyes never leaving those steaming grilled buns, mouth watering uncontrollably.
“He-he, Sir Song Tao is just too unfortunate, today’s grilled rolls are all sold out!” Wen Rou said as she continued to flip the buns and dusted some cumin over it.
“Sold out? Aren’t those still available?” Sir Song Tao pointed unhappily at the still grilling skewers.
“Oh, you mean these, ah? These are for my second uncle! Second uncle, it’s all done. Here you go!”
Wen Rou announced, not bothering to look at Sir Song Tao as she grabbed the skewers in one hand and placed the lot into Wen Shouchai’s hand!
 Metal Trough – a metal half cylinder thing to collect water  ‘Shi – It’s not actually part of her name. It’s ‘surname’, Zhou’shi basically means Surname Zhou.  Barley cakes
 Yes, it’s an actual question mark  Making things worse  Metal rooster – Cheapskate, stingy person  Heaven’s Cloak, made without a seam – perfection