Chapter 125: Ready, Set… Eat!

 

Translated by Gumihou

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

Everyone stared, Concubine Jing looked at Su Nuan Nuan curiously, “What is madam planning to do with these?”

Su Nuan Nuan smirked, “These were originally meant for the kitchen fires. Pushan Temple monks are really full of surprises. They like to practice their Iron Palm techniques while setting up the cooking fire. However, for now these branches will be useful to us in a different way. We’re going to weave it.” she turned to the monks. “Masters, please weave these together and place them around the walls. It’s fine if it’s visible to outsiders, in fact, it’s better if they could see it.”

“Madam’s meaning is…?” the monks were confused by this order. Su Nuan Nuan grinned, “We’re using the Paper Tiger method. Those bandits have just lost two guys to us, so they know the front door is booby trapped. They should turn their sights on our walls next, the Thorny Jujubes should make them hesitate.”

“I see, madam is well versed with battle tactics.” The monks all smiled at each other. Though they were martial monks, they were first and foremost peace loving monks, if there was a way to keep peace without causing injury, that would be the best. This was better than having to kill people and dirty the temple grounds with bloodshed.

As the monks hurried out with their Thorny Jujubes, Concubine Jing, Qiu Ling and the rest of the people looked up at Su Nuan Nuan with shining eyes. Qiu Ling laughed, “This one had always known that first madam is an amazing person, but never have I imagine just how amazing. The way you devise strategy is like… like, seeing a general making plans in his tent while the battle is, uh, is happening five miles away!”

A little [pu chi] sound as laughter escaped Su Nuan Nuan. She shook her head and said, “Elder sister[1] should refrain herself from flattery since she’s so bad at it.”

Qiu Ling flushed red with embarrassment, but knowing Su Nuan Nuan’s attitude, she immediately stiffened her neck and retorted smartly, “Who’s flattering? I was just at a loss for words for the moment. If first madam don’t believe me, just ask anyone here. Who doesn’t think madam’s action is just like a majestic heroine? Military strategies aside, how many women would be able to look into death in its eye and spit into its face?”

“If you praise me anymore, I shall float away into the sky.” Su Nuan Nuan shook her head with a smile. The sun had long since set, leaving only a faint glimmer of dusk light in the sky. Concubine Jing couldn’t help herself as she stuck closer to Su Nuan Nuan. When asked what was wrong, she answered, “The Four Heavenly Kings[2] in this hall, they looked kind of… frightening in the dim light…”

Su Nuan Nuan finally understood. The faces of the heavenly kings were fierce and sinister. Even she had a scare when she looked up at them for the first time.

A sudden thought occurred to her, and she quickly rushed over to the abbot to whisper a few words to him. The abbot blinked at her for a moment before smilingly widely and nodded his agreement. Su Nuan Nuan happily clapped her hands and announced, “Alright, since it’s getting dark, let’s make dinner.”

[Pu-] there just happened to be quite a few people in the middle of drinking their tea, and now their drink was spread out all over the place courtesy of Su Nuan Nuan. Servants and maids who had been worshipping this dynamic mistress of theirs were now holding their heads in their hands lamenting: Madam, we know you’re a foodie, but… but… is now really a good time? How could you just have eating in your mind?

Look, even the great master is shocked, ah. And the monks, we can see their back teeth, ah. The unflappable and unjudgemental monks were all shaken to this level. How… how embarrassing, the An Ping house was already famous in the Capital for being foodies, we’re known as walking stomachs, alright? Wu! If we think about it, we’ve already been known as the Foodie Family ever since old madam’s birthday banquet.

At this thought, all the servants felt a little relieved. Still, they could not help their judgemental stares as they tried to glare at Su Nuan Nuan from the corners of their eyes. Su Nuan Nuan countered their side eyes with raised eyebrows and said coldly, “Where have all of your thoughts gotten to? You think I would actually risk our lives just for a meal? How stupid could you be? It’s all part of the strategy. Just think, how bewildered the enemies would be if we floated out some nice cooking smells for them? Heh! Those bewildered bandits will be stuck outside, too frightened to come in and suffering from hunger pangs while we are warm, toasty and full. Hei-hei, just thinking about it makes me happy.”

“I see, I see, madam has even taken food into calculation.” Concubine Jing had bought the whole explanation completely and was now busy sticking gold onto Su Nuan Nuan’s face, “what is madam planning to make? This isn’t the kitchen after all, and aside from water, there isn’t much else. Not a pot, plate or ladle in sight. Should we make another expedition to the kitchen?”

“No need, I shall let you taste something completely unique, Flat Stone Cake.” Su Nuan Nuan laughed. This recipe was something she saw in one of Bi Shumin’s[3] novels where a group of characters made while camping in the wild. Attracted by the delicious description, she had used a flat bottom pan to try and recreate the recipe a few times. It was certainly delicious. She really had not expected to attempt the real thing now that she had transmigrated into the past.

A roaring fire was lit, warming up the cold rear hall by several degrees. They managed to find four pieces of large flat stones in the rear hall and placed those on the campfire, held up by smaller stones. Everyone watched curiously as she ordered a bunch of young monks to fetch flour, oil, a few rolling pins and clean brushes. A little monk rubbed his ears and asked, “Just these? You don’t want us fetch other things? We’re pretty quick on our feet, we could go fetch other stuff now.”

“No need, these are enough. How could I ask you little masters to risk your life twice?” said Su Nuan Nuan as she folded up her sleeves and began mixing flour and water together.

The others stared, wait, something did not seemed right. That water… isn’t that a lot of water? How could you make dough with that? It’s basically a slurry now.

Since it’s food for a few dozen people, Su Nuan Nuan quickly began to work up a sweat stirring just one bucket of slurry. Even then, it was quite hard work and she recruited a few female servants to assist her. In a short while, several large buckets appeared, all filled with flour slurry, everyone began rushing over to help stir the slurry with rolling pins. However the question remained, how was this was supposed to be eaten?

“That’s easy to answer.”

Su Nuan Nuan said as she picked up a brush, dipped it in oil and gave the flat stone the lightest sheen of oil. Next, she pour one ladle full of the slurry onto the hot surface. making a sharp [zhi la] sound. A savoury smell of hot oil and cooking flour immediately filled the room. Working quickly, the other three stones were soon given the same oil and slurry treatment. She worked smoothly and gracefully, not a single wasted movement to be seen. Moreover, the slurry formed a perfect circle each time. It was almost like watching a kungfu performance. Because the Flat Cakes[4] were very thin and stone slabs very hot, several pieces of the Cakes were made very quickly. There was no need to even flip over the cakes, as it was ready as soon as it began to bubble and crisp up. The sight of those crisp Flat Stone Cakes, coupled with the smell in the air, soon begin to make everyone’s mouth water.

A few of the female servants wiped their lips, but no one dared to come forward and be first to ask for a piece. Naturally they weren’t worried about first madam getting angry at them, everyone knew that though first madam was a little fierce, she was not the kind of person who would lose her temper over such trivial things. Only… there were a lot of monks around, how could they ruin the dignity of the An Ping house by acting like greedy pigs? It was one thing for their masters to be known as the Great Foodies of the Capital, but as servants they should maintain the An Ping dignity, right?

“Amitabha, madam is both skilled and benevolent. This cooking method is simple and straightforward, yet looks delicious and filling. This humble one would be glad to learn from madam.”

At the abbot’s remark, Su Nuan Nuan handed a piece of the Flat Stone Cake to him. “Enough talk, have a taste, great master. If you don’t eat, nobody would dare to start before you.” after speaking, she took a piece for herself and took a bite. “Hmm, not bad, fragrant and crispy. Alright, everyone please wait a bit longer, there will be plenty for everyone. Sister Jing, find a few more helpers for me. Surely I don’t have to explain how to make this, right?”

 

Author White Pear Flower: Well? We have both food and a campfire here. Isn’t it just like a foodie to include food in her strategy against her enemies? Even under these critical circumstances, who else would have the guts to think about food, but a foodie? Wakakakaka!

 

[Gumihou: Lol, what happened to the tensed atmosphere? It had suddenly turned into a cooking show.]

 

[1] Since Qiu Ling’s mistress (old madam) is two generations above than Nuan Nuan, Nuan Nuan courteously addressed her as Elder Sister.

 

[2] Four Heavenly Kings, four Buddhist gods originate from the Indian version of Lokapalas. Here’s a wiki for it ~

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Heavenly_Kings

 

[3] Bi Shumin – A real writer! One of the most unusual and powerful female writers in current literary scene.

http://www.china.org.cn/english/NM-e/148878.htm

 

[4] Flat Stone Cake – Erm, Some kind of thin crepe, I think? I think Su Nuan Nuan had explained the cooking method quite well here. Lol!

 

 

 

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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