Chapter 3 (Part 1): The Culinary Tycoon

About to swallow the tongue

The next morning, just as dawn was breaking, Yu Qingze heard Grandpa Chang and Chang Hao, who shared the same room with him, getting up. He quickly got up as well.

“Did we wake you up? It’s still early, go back to sleep,” Grandpa Chang said hurriedly when he saw Yu Qingze getting up.

Since the hosts were already awake, Yu Qingze felt awkward continuing to lie down.

He slept on a small bed last night because he didn’t want to inconvenience Grandpa Chang and Chang Hao by squeezing onto the small bed with them. That small bed was only as wide as a bench, about a meter wide. He didn’t know how the two of them managed to fit on it during the two days he was unconscious.

In fact, he didn’t sleep well last night. Firstly, the environment was unfamiliar. He had just arrived in this world, and his worldview had been shaken, causing his mind to be filled with various thoughts. He didn’t even know if he had fallen asleep or not, experiencing a half-dream, half-awake sensation. Secondly, it was simply too hot. The bed curtains were not made of gauze, so they didn’t allow much airflow. On top of that, mosquitoes got in and buzzed incessantly, but he couldn’t locate them, which was extremely annoying.

It was currently the height of summer, and in this ancient era without air conditioning or fans, it would be strange if he could sleep well.

He knew that Grandpa Chang and the others were going to the fields to harvest the crops, so he volunteered to help.

Grandpa Chang glanced at his injured leg and said, “No need, focus on healing your injury first. If you want to help, you can assist Xiao Hao in drying the grain later.” Worried that Yu Qingze might feel uncomfortable, Grandpa Chang assigned him a task that didn’t require much physical effort.

“…Okay.” The morning work wouldn’t take long, and knowing that he had difficulty moving around, once he reached the field, Chang Le and the others would probably be back. It wouldn’t be feasible for him to join them, so he agreed.

When he went outside, Chang Le had already spread out the straw mats for drying the grain and poured the harvested grain onto the mats, forming piles on each mat.

Then, Chang Le instructed Chang Hao to watch the fire while he cooked porridge in the kitchen. He picked up two large buckets and headed out with Grandpa Chang.

“Xiao Hao, is your brother carrying the buckets filled with grain? Don’t you have baskets?” The wooden buckets were as big as the one his grandfather used to bathe him when he was a child. The weight of just the two solid wooden buckets alone was probably around twenty to thirty catties, and when filled with grain, they would be even heavier.

Yawning, Chang Hao brought out a basin of water and placed it on the stone beside the kitchen door. He replied, “No, those are water buckets. My brother will bring back water while he’s coming back.”

(Note: “catties” is a unit of weight commonly used in East Asia, equivalent to approximately 500 grams.)

Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.

“…Oh. That wooden bucket is so big.” Yu Qingze sighed again, wondering how heavy it must be.

“Yeah, it’s specially made. It can be filled with enough water to fill the water tank in one trip. My brother finds ordinary buckets too small and troublesome to go back and forth,” Chang Hao explained.

Yu Qingze: “…That’s a really impressive reason!”

“Your brother is amazing!” Yu Qingze sincerely praised. Despite his slender frame, he was so strong!

Chang Hao, proud of his brother, eagerly introduced his brother’s “great achievements,” saying, “Yeah, my brother is probably the most capable. None of those guys can match him! They need three people to lift a big tree, but my brother can do it alone!”

Yu Qingze: “…That’s really impressive!”

Pleased with the praise for his brother, Chang Hao turned around and took out some cloth towels and willow twigs from the kitchen. They were prepared in advance by Chang Le.

“Big brother Yu, you can actually sleep a bit longer. You don’t have to get up so early. My brother and Grandpa won’t come back for breakfast until the sun is up.” After saying that, Chang Hao picked up a willow twig and handed one to Yu Qingze. He took another one for himself, bit it a few times to peel off the bark, revealing the inner fibers of the willow twig, and then began brushing his teeth.

“It’s fine, I usually get up early too,” Yu Qingze said, relieved to see how Chang Hao was brushing his teeth. He learned from Chang Hao’s actions and used the willow twig to brush his own teeth. The willow twig had a unique green and woody taste, which wasn’t bad.

After finishing their morning routines, Yu Qingze asked Chang Hao to keep an eye on the fire while he used a grain rake to spread out the grains on the four large straw mats for drying. He also used the rake to remove the grass debris from the grain.

He had done these tasks before at his grandfather’s house, so he knew how to do them. After roughly removing the grass debris, he would wait for the grains to dry a bit more before doing a thorough cleaning. Once they were fully dried, he would use a winnowing fan to blow away the chaff, leaving behind plump grains.

After finishing the grain-drying task, Yu Qingze went into the kitchen. The porridge had already been cooked and was being cooled in cold water. Chang Hao was cleaning the soaked dried radishes.

“Is this what we’re having for breakfast?” Yu Qingze asked.

Chang Hao nodded. “Yeah, I’m not very good at cooking, so I’ll clean them first. Once my brother comes back, we can cook it right away.”

Yu Qingze said, “I’ll do it.”

Chang Hao’s eyes brightened as he looked at Yu Qingze, “Can you cook?”

Yu Qingze nodded, “Yes.” He was quite skilled, having been a chef before and making a living from it.

Chang Hao was delighted and said, “Then, Big brother Yu, please cook. I’ll start the fire, and we can eat when Grandfather and my brother return.”

The two of them quickly agreed.

Observing the condiments on the table, Yu Qingze saw only oil, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar. Next to the cutting board were a few chili peppers, four cucumbers, and a sweet potato vine in the corner. Everything was fresh, probably obtained by Chang Le early in the morning.

He was taken aback. Early in the morning, he had tended to the pigs, harvested vegetables, started a fire, cooked porridge, and even spread the straw mat and poured the millet. He wondered just how early Chang Le had gotten up.

What a diligent little brother he was.

After consulting with Chang Hao and learning that they preferred spicy food, Yu Qingze took two cucumbers and skillfully made a smashed cucumber dish, adding a little chopped chili pepper. Then, he picked a bunch of fresh and tender sweet potato leaves from the vine, removing the leaves and keeping only the stems.

Chang Hao watched as Yu Qingze quickly made a cucumber salad and swiftly cut the sweet potato stems into sections. He also minced the dried radish and put it in a bowl. Just by watching his knife skills, it was convincing. However, Chang Hao looked at the sweet potato stems with a complicated expression.

Cold Cucumber Salad with Chopped Peppers
(credit: A Beautiful Plate)

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