Although the matriarch was getting along in age, there weren’t many other family members who could take charge of the entire estate. Thus, Matriarch He had a hand in managing each courtyard. Every day, someone would come to report the actions of the courtyards’ masters.
Several days ago, the matriarch had gotten a taste of Chu Lian’s candied kumquats. Matriarch He had even specially praised them.
Previously, whenever any guest of note visited the Jing’an Estate, they would definitely be served some of Cook Zhou’s special snacks. However, these special snacks had passed away with Cook Zhou in the great kitchen fire. For the guests that visited them now, the snacks seemed to have turned disappointingly ordinary.
Their current guest was an old madam from House Zheng. She was an old friend from back when Matriarch He was still an unmarried young lady. Their friendship had endured for decades: from their youth, all the way up until now, when they were both the matriarchs of their respective families. It was only natural that a friendship such as theirs couldn’t be compared to the relations between other noble ladies.
Old Duchess Zheng was curious. She had never seen Chu Lian before.
She used this fact to tease Matriarch He. “Hey, my dear sister, why didn’t you tell me that your granddaughter-in-law knows how to make desserts? Now that your pastry chef is gone, eating snacks here isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be!”
The two of them were old friends, so they could speak more freely with each other. Thus, Matriarch He ordered Senior Servant Liu to serve the pastries that Chu Lian had made.
When Senior Servant Liu lifted the lid of the container, she couldn’t help but let out a gasp of surprise.
Matriarch He glared at her a little unhappily.
“Matriarch, please forgive my rudeness. These desserts simply looked too beautiful and I lost my composure.”
“Oh? What kind of dessert could make Xiangyun lose her composure? Quick, bring it out and show me,” Old Duchess Zheng urged.
Xiangyun was Senior Servant Liu’s name when she had been a young maidservant.
By the time Senior Servant Liu finished placing the desserts on a small side table, even the two matriarchs who had seen many a dessert in their time were wide-eyed.
The shaved iced dessert was not only fragrant, but also visually pleasing. Served in a porcelain bowl, the various colours of the fruits contrasted well against both the white of the dish and that of the milk. A few red orchids were arranged by the side of the bowl, making it look more like a piece of art than a midday treat. They almost couldn’t bear to eat it.
On the other hand, there was a clear, round water droplet that looked extremely interesting. It was served in a long, shallow dark green bowl. There was a single lotus leaf underneath the droplet, and served beside it was brown syrup and soybean powder. It looked just like a large bead of morning dew as it rested atop the lotus leaf. They had never seen anything quite like it before.
While the two madams were admiring the desserts, Senior Servant Liu spoke up.
“Matriarch, Third Young Madam said that it would have been a waste if she didn’t make some desserts with the ice you sent over today. Thus, in return, she sent over this iced dessert and raindrop mochi. However, these two desserts are cold, so please don’t eat too much of it since your bodies might not be able to take it.”
Old Duchess Zheng curiously looked up. “You sent ice over?”
Matriarch He took the initiative to explain how He Changdi had rushed off to the northern border. That child had clearly arranged everything early on, but he had only left a letter behind to explain where he had gone. She had sent Dalang to look for him, but there had been no news at all after most of the day had passed. It was obvious that He Changdi had already decided on this plan of his and had made his preparations beforehand; what a pity for her newlywed granddaughter-in-law.
Old Duchess Zheng frowned. “Sister, you have to arrange things carefully and make sure the servants in your estate keep their mouths shut. Otherwise, your granddaughter-in-law’s good name might be tarnished!”
“Of course I know that. That grandson of mine caused too much trouble this time!”