In the end, not 30 minutes after that, Tina found the second yam.
Since two tubers are more than enough for pastry’s ingredient, one of them should be eaten in the house. Tina looks really happy when she carries the yam that I dug.
“Heave ho, the fox goes konkonkon♪” She seems to be in an extremely good mood, to sing something weird as she opens her mouth.
“Flutter fluttery tail, konkonkon♪” Matching the song, Tina’s tail swings around cutely.
“Only the tip of the ears goes blaaack♪”
It’s a weird song, but somehow it’s pleasing to listen. Next time, I should ask her to sing it in a quiet place.
“This place is so nostalgic.”
“It was winter the last time we came here.”
Together with Tina, we enter a small cavern inside the forest. I call it cavern, but it’s a really small spot that only spans a minute walking.
There are still some snow left inside the cavern. This place is Tina’s and my cold storage. By piling up as much snow as possible in the middle of winter in this cavern, the snow won’t melt until around the end of spring. If we put what we get in the autumn inside this cavern, it could possibly be preserved for a long time.
There’s a vase lying inside the cavern. We crammed it with walnuts found at the end of autumn.
The walnuts can stay for half a year inside a cool place. Walnuts, full of nutrition, are the emergency rations for winter when there are blessing of the forest, or when there’s not enough food by the end of winter, or when there’s a food shortage due to the crop failure in the spring.
It’s a village with 50 residents or so, thus this small amount of walnuts can prolong the lives of the people for a while if we save carefully.
“Tina, the walnuts that we picked, I was thinking to use them as pastry ingredients. Do you mind?”
Since the walnuts here are those picked by both Tina and I, I can’t use them without Tina’s acknowledgement.
“It’s fine. …What a shame, though.” Tina sounds a little dejected.
Every year, if there’s no misfortune that pushes out to eat the walnuts as emergency good, we both enjoy it and share it in the provisions sent to the villagers. The walnuts are our treat, so Tina surely has been waiting in anticipation too.
“….Can I have a single selfish request?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Today’s meal, please use some walnut to make something wonderful.”
“I understand. I’ll make a meal using walnuts to the best of my skills.”
“Then I’ll gladly wait for it!”
It’s the request from sweet Tina. I must answer this request. Let’s make an extraordinary meal using this walnut. But before that…
I grip and smash the walnut’s shell, taking out the white meat and pop it into Tina’s mouth. Eating a little is no problem at all. While showing a surprised expression, Tina properly chews on the meat then shows a joyful face.
Afterwards, the both of us returned to the house after picking plenty of hardy kiwi (sarunashi) fruit and edible wild plants like nobiru (wild rocambole) and udo (ginseng-like plant). The date ended like this, and as I walked down the mountain with Tina, I feel a little tired in my mind.
No, I still have one thing left to do. I must make a superb dinner for Tina’s sake. Walking towards the kitchen, I spread the walnut.
“Kurt-sama, what are you making?”
“Walnut oil. We can squeeze the oil out of the walnuts. It’s convenient to use, since it’s just like butter. I can use some for today’s dinner as well as tomorrow’s pastry.”
To tell the truth, for making the pastry tomorrow, the lack of butter is more severe than the lack of wheat. My pioneering village has nothing but a few goats as domestic animals.
No matter what, it’s impossible to prepare the essential butter for 200 portions of pastries. That’s why, I’m using walnut oil.
The oil taken from walnuts have a hint of sweetness and a rich flavor. Walnut oil cannot substitute for butter, but it’s a great rival. Depending on how I use it, I can make even more delicious sweets than when using butter.
“So walnuts can produce oil too, can’t they?”
“Yes, it’s really tasty too. Please wait while I prepare today’s dinner using walnut oil.”
I smile and spread the walnuts on top of the table as far as possible. In my hand, I have my beloved stone knife. And then….
“Amazing, splitting that hard walnut shells in halves like that!”
With the knife, I cut them in two. Thanks to Sword Ability III, I have a strengthened slash. Thanks to that, the walnut shells which usually take a huge effort to split has now been cut into two.
“Tina, can you collect the white meat inside the walnuts into one place?”
“Please relax, you can leave it to me!”
By using forks, Tina takes out the walnut meat one by one. Looking at her sideways, I continue to cut the walnuts in halves.
“Kurt-sama, you’ve collected a lot of walnut meat.”
“Yeah, thanks to Tina, we can go to the next step now.”
The wooden bowl is filled to the brim with walnut meat. I wrap it with a coarse cloth, then hit the wrapped walnut with the wide part of the knife. Inside it, the walnut becomes shattered. Then I squeeze it tightly, without forgetting to strengthen my physical strength to the limit by mana.
“Woooow, oil is dripping from the cloth!”
The oil that trickling from the cloth goes into a tub. The amber-colored oil is gradually piling up in the bottom.
“The oil really comes out. That surprises me.”
“This is walnut oil. Actually, even if eaten raw, the oil is still delicious. Do you want to try some?”
“May I? Then…”
Tina licks the walnut oil.
“Ah, delicious. It has the walnut’s flavor. The flavor is rich, and it’s light and sweet.”
“Right? The pastry made from this would definitely taste good.”
“Yes! I’ll be waiting for it!”
The ingredients for the pastry I’ll make tomorrow are the eggs brought by Marquis Fernandes, the wheat harvested in this village, the walnut oil collected from the mountain, the yam I dug, then some honey, the hardy kiwi we picked today…. which is a green, 5 cm-sized native species that is similar to kiwi fruits.
Other than eggs, everything is procured from this village or forest. Each one of them is a superb ingredient, and since they are collected from the same forest, they have great compatibility. The ingredients that receives brimming life force of the forest will certainly perform a hundred percent and with them, I’ll make the pastry that will highlight the deliciousness of the eggs.
I’ll be making a golden-colored pastry. I’ll have to think of a name befitting a golden-colored pastry.
“Well then, I’ve taken enough oil. With this, the pastry’s ingredients are all present. Tomorrow, I’ll present my ace pastry for Tina as well, so please expect to eat it.”
“Having to wait until tomorrow… I think I’m going to die.”
Tina looks bitter while staring at me. I wryly laugh, then went to bottle up the walnut oil.
While working on it, I’m smiling. Western confectionery has four crucial ingredients. Though somewhat imperfect, I’ve gathered all of them at my disposal.
Wheat flour…… the wheat harvested in the village and yams
Eggs…… laid by chicken that will be brought by Marquis Fernandes
Butter…… the village’s goat butter and walnut oil
Since I have these four, I could put my skills to my satisfaction. I have great expectations starting tomorrow.
“Oh well, the pastry is for tomorrow, but as I promised, today I’m going to make something wonderful for dinner using walnut. You can count on it, so forgive me this once.”
“What are you making?”
With great expectations in her eyes, Tina looks at me.
“I’ll only give you the spoiler that it’s a treat using deer meat and walnut. The rest is something to be expected once it’s done. Not only tasty, it’s also a cooking to pray for good luck.”
Inside my head, the image of cooking comes to me. Light flavored meat, with the richness from walnut. With special sauce, it’s surely something that will make Tina happy.
So, about Tina’s weird song. Her singing of “konkonkon” is basically how a fox/kitsune is supposed to sound like in Japanese, lol.
Cooking! More cooking! (I think) Selection ceremony will only start on chapter 19, so enjoy the pace for now.