On the way home, Xiaoguo bumped into Zhuang Zhuang, who was tending to the cows outside.
Zhuang Zhuang saw Xiaoguo from afar and led the cows home with her.
Seeing that Xiaoguo had gone up the mountains and he had also just finished his reading, Zhuang Zhuang had decided to bring the cows out for grazing after Xiaoguo left the house.
The mother and son walked home together.
When they got home, Zhuang Zhuang went to tie up the cows.
Xiaoguo carried the basket to the well and fetched a large basin of water.
She poured out the branches from the basket to reveal the fish at the bottom.
She then grabbed the fish and placed it in the water.
Although the fish had been taken out of water for some time, it was still full of vitality when they got home.
“Mother, are we having fish for lunch”
At this moment, Zhuang Zhuang had just finished tying up the cows.
When he saw the big fish in the basin, he thought that Xiaoguo was going to make sweet and sour fish.
He could not help but lick his lips as he could still remember the taste.
“Well grill it the day after tomorrow.”
Xiaoguo patted Zhuang Zhuang on the head.
“Wash your hands.
Ill go cook.”
After lunch, Xiaoguo still had to shave the skewers.
She wondered if she could finish it in half a day.
She had other plans for tomorrow.
After dinner, Xiaoguo sat in the courtyard with a knife.
Beside her was a handful of sharpened skewers.
“Mother, Ill help you with the shaving.”
Xiaoguo didnt stop what she was doing.
She continued to shave the skewers quickly.
“No, the knife is very dangerous.
Besides, the wood is covered in thorns.
You can get pricked if you were not careful.
I can do this myself.”
When Zhuang Zhuang heard this, he did not insist on helping.
He sat obediently beside Xiaoguo and chatted with her.
Xiaoguo told him to go to bed, but he refused.
He insisted on staying by her side.
In his words, even if he couldnt help his mother, he couldnt leave her alone to work.
Xiaoguo was happy to hear that and she let him be.
Xiaoguos hands were a little tired from trimming the branches, so she took breaks intermittently.
Eventually, she finished shaving all the branches before the sky turned dark.
Xiaoguo found a large basin and threw all the skewers into it.
She washed them with water and asked Zhuang Zhuang to boil water in the kitchen.
She still had to boil the skewers.
Xiaoguo scooped out the sticks and moved them to the kitchen.
She lifted the pot lid and threw in the sticks.
They just had to be boiled for a short while.
After Zhuang Zhuang removed the fire, Xiaoguo used a large bamboo tray to scoop out all the skewers and drained away the excess water.
She then left them to air-dry for the night.
When tomorrow comes, she will start preparing the meat skewers.
Before going to bed, Xiaoguo took out all the pillows and blankets from the cabinet.
She will sun them tomorrow.
Fortunately, there were plenty of pillows and blankets at home.
Otherwise, the guests would have to go without blankets when they arrive.
Early the next morning, the sun was high in the sky.
Xiaoguo and Zhuang Zhuang hung up the blankets and pillows on the clothesline.
Using a washing bat, she pounded on the blankets so that the cotton filling could get some sun too.
Xiaoguo brought the marinated mutton and sausages to the kitchen.
There were two large basins of mutton.
Xiaoguo estimated that she would have to spend most of the day threading meat onto the skewers.
Early in the morning, Zhuang Zhuang had asked Xiaoguo for three days off.
He said that he would not be studying today, tomorrow, and the day after.
Xiaoguo thought for a moment and agreed.
He would have no time over the next three days.
Today, she needed Zhuang Zhuang to help her with the skewers.
When Qin Anming and the others arrive tomorrow, he will not be in the mood to learn.
The day after tomorrow, Qin Anming and the others would be leaving.
Zhuang Zhuang would pester him all day long.
How would he be in the mood to study
“Zhuang Zhuang, Ill teach you how to thread the meat onto the skewers.
Be careful not to prick your hand, you understand”
After seeing Zhuang Zhuang mod his head, Xiaoguo picked up a skewer and started working.
She would be skewering the mutton and Zhuang Zhuang was taught to skewer the vegetables and sausages.
It wasnt easy to skewer the mutton.
If Zhuang Zhuang wasnt careful, he could prick his hands.
Vegetables and sausages were easier to skewer.
Therefore, she felt more at ease letting Zhuang Zhuang work on those.
It would save her a lot of time.
When she woke up in the morning, Xiaoguo had gone to the vegetable field to pick some eggplant, leeks, and chili peppers.
Xiaoguo picked a portion of everything that could be grilled.
Xiaoguo first cut the vegetables into thick slices for Zhuang Zhuang, and lined up the chives which would be skewered as a base piece.
For the chilis, Xiaoguo thought of skewering some as a whole piece and some as cut pieces.
The cut pieces would be threaded alternately with the mutton.
They would look good and taste good.
The meat sausages would be cut into halves, as one whole piece was long to be placed onto the grill.
When it was time to cut the sausages, Xiaoguo hesitated for a moment.
In the end, she packed the sausages and put them aside.
She decided not to grill them.
She would boil or fry them instead.
Mother and son sat together, each taking charge of a basin of ingredients.
They each picked up a stick and began skewering.
Xiaoguo worked on the mutton and Zhuang Zhuang worked on the eggplant.
After going through a few skewers, there was a knock on the door.
The puppies began barking.
Xiaoguo put down the stick in her hand curiously and let Zhuang Zhuang continue threading the skewers.
She went out to take a look.
When she opened the door, she saw that it was Mrs.
“Are you going to the market today, Xiaoguo”
Tomorrow was the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Yang wanted to go to the market to buy some good food and come home to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
I have nothing to buy.”
“Alright! Ill make my way to the village entrance.”
Yang was not affected.
When she heard that Xiaoguo was not going, she was prepared to take the carriage at the village entrance.
Xiaoguo looked at Mrs.
Yangs back and suddenly remembered something.
Yang turned around in confusion when she heard Xiaoguos voice.
“Sister-in-law, do you know how to drive a donkey cart If you do, you can use it.”
Xiaoguo suddenly thought of something which would require the help of Mrs.
Since she was busy, she would have to trouble Mrs.
Yang to help her out.
Ill just take the carriage.”
Yang would feel ashamed to use Xiaoguos donkey cart.
She usually tags along with Xiaoguo when she goes to the market.
Xiaoguo would drive the donkey cart.
She had taken so many rides and Xiaoguo had never taken her money.
How could Mrs.
Yang bear to trouble her again
Do me a favor and help me buy some things.
I cant get away.”
Yang heard this, she didnt ask why Xiaoguo couldnt go.
She waved her hand to indicate that there was no problem.
She had thought that it was something important, instead, it was just helping her to buy some things.
“No, just tell me what to buy.
Ill bring it back for you.”
“Sister-in-law, you can just drive the donkey cart there.
I have a long list of things to buy.
I have to go back to the house and write them down for you.
If there were any delay, you wouldnt reach the county entrance in time to catch the carriage back.
As Xiaoguo spoke, she pulled Mrs.
Yang into her home.
She couldnt help but sigh in wonder.
Yang had come at the right time!
There was only a jar of osmanthus wine at home and she had no other drinks.
Mutton meat is heaty, so she could make a pot of sour plum soup.
It would be just nice for cooling down the body.
However, she needed medicinal herbs to make the sour plum soup.
She didnt have time to make a trip to the county as the traveling time was pretty long.
Yang was going to the market, so she could ask her to help buy some back.
Yang thought about it and agreed.
There might be a car now but If she were to wait a while longer, it would be hard to tell.
Anyway, Xiaoguo was not an outsider.
She would drive the donkey cart there.
Xiaoguo returned to her room and used Zhuang Zhuangs brush and paper to write down the medicinal herbs needed for the sour plum soup.
Most medicinal shops would sell them.
Yang took it and looked at it carefully.
There were mulberries, black plums, tangerine peel, licorice, rhododendrons, hawthorns, and rock sugar.
“Just these seven herbs, right”
Yang went through the list with Xiaoguo.
“Just these seven types.
Theyre available in most medicinal shops.
For the rock sugar, just buy any quantity that it is packed in, its okay to get slightly more.
For the other items on the list, I will need 50 grams each.”
In any case, she wouldnt use all of them at once.
If she bought more, she could keep them and make the soup whenever she wanted some.
Yang noted what she said, she kept the list carefully and set off.
Xiaoguo wanted to give her the money first, but Mrs.
Yang waved her hand and told her to wait until she was back.
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