Fresh eggs picked up from the chicken coop in the morning.
With a crack, I split open the egg on the rim of the metal bowl. The viscous, transparent egg white, along with the beautiful orange, plump yolk, danced at the bottom of the bowl.
The plump yolk and the cloudy egg white shone in the fluorescent light. It made me happy because that showed just how fresh it was. I continued to crack open the other eggs, when I noticed the person who sat next to me was staring at my hand with his mouth half open.
–Seeing him like that I involuntarily began laughing.
“Is this the first time you witnessed an egg being cracked open? “
When he noticed that I had laughed, he seemed to realize just what kind of face he was making, because he hurriedly tried to mend his expression–although it didn’t quite work since his cheeks still had a red tint to them.
“Would you like to try your hand at cracking an egg?”
“No, no. I will just get in your way…”
Although he declined my suggestion, there was still a glimpse of curiosity left behind his eyes.
-‘You actually wanted to do it, didn’t you?’ His fingers had been antsy and restless since a while ago after all.
“Aristocrats, don’t usually cook, do they? “
“No. The meals are essentially cooked by the personal chefs we have at the mansion. “
“I thought it would be like that. Then. This would be a first for you. “
With a grin, I shoved in both of his hands the bowl of eggs and the whisker.
“Ehh! what…what?” Left in a bind, he gave a bewildered look towards the items in his hand and towards me, but with a pat on his shoulder and a mean smile reminiscent of a bully, I mimicked the whisking hand motion to prod him on.
“They were freshly laid this morning, so I’m sure they won’t mix very well. Please mix them carefully! It depends on you whether the result will be a good one or not.”
Hearing that, his face turned blue, and after staring at the bowl in his hand for a bit, he began to stir the mixture with all his might.
The rattling sound of the whisk hitting the bowl along with the sound of his metal armour touching, made the small kitchen quite noisy.
Meanwhile, I took the milk out of the fridge and weighed it on the kitchen scale. Vanilla beans were also on standby on a small plate. I thought about adding whipped cream but decided against it. I wanted to keep today’s recipe as simple as possible.
I took the sugar out of the cupboard and separated it into two parts, one for the caramel and one for the body. I used a kitchen scale to measure and separate the sugar. Looking at his work, it seemed that he did a good job mixing the eggs, so I added the sugar a little bit at a time. The pure white granulated sugar was absorbed into the golden eggs mixture. I had him hold the bowl at an angle and mix it with the whisk.
In the meantime, I put the milk with the vanilla beans, and vanilla bean pods in a small pot and turned on the gas stove. I made sure to keep it on low heat since I didn’t want to overheat it. I then checked with a thermometer and made sure that the temperature did not exceed 60 degrees. If it got too warm, then I ran the risk of allowing it to curdle if I mixed it with the eggs.
While doing that I remembered something very important.
….The fact that I reached this point, but only now I realized that I should have made the caramel first.
–What a mess.
Even if the egg mixture was made first, I couldn’t pour it into the bowl without adding the caramel sauce!
My thoughts were in turmoil but letting him realize that grated on my nerves, so I quickly prepared a new pot and continued to work as if nothing had happened.
I placed it on the stove next to it and added a little sugar and water. I turned the heat up a little higher and let it burn until it turned a nice colour.
“Wow. It smells so nice and sweet.” His face started to brighten, as he seemed to have a surprisingly sweet tooth. Honey-coloured eyes longingly gazed at the small pot of caramel sauce.
“Such a beautiful colour… “
I was a little taken aback by the colour of his eyes, which looked like jewels to my Japanese sensibilities, which are used to black eyes and black hair.
–‘Oh, what a handsome man. I’m so happy to be able to cook with such a person.’ I thought to myself.
–What should I say about this great bargain?
Unlimited viewing of idols nearby. Something like that:
Eye candy! Eye candy!
–If I got too carried away again and burnt the caramel, I would lose all our progress…
When the sugar turned from a yellow candy-like colour to the usual brown colour of caramel, I removed it from the heat, then laid it on a damp cloth and gently poured water into it. Steam burst from the pot, but without minding it, I mixed it with a spoon and ‘voilà’ the caramel sauce was ready.
I poured it evenly into the prepared pudding container.
And with that done, it was ready to go.
It was also a close call. I am glad I noticed in time. A pudding without caramel is not a pudding.
–Well, I’m not a confectionery professional. That’s why I can only do my best. Making mistakes is also a part of the process.
Now, it was finally time to complete the egg mixture.
I added warm milk little by little to the eggs he was stirring so diligently. The combination between the milk and the yellow colour of the egg resulted in a beautiful creamy colour.
After I confirmed that the sugar had been completely integrated, I prepared a new bowl and a tea strainer, and I asked him to pour the egg mixture into it.
With a gulp, his countenance changed, and very seriously he began to slowly pour the mixture through the tea strainer inside the bowl, carefully, without making any mistakes, as if his life depended on it, and only after he finished, did he allow himself to breathe again.
“You didn’t need to go so far as to even hold down your breath.
You know I won’t get angry even if you spill a little don’t you? “
I was straining so hard not to allow myself to start laughing in front of him that I got cramps to my stomach.
It reminded me of the boy I was with during the cooking class when I was in elementary school. He was also striving to become a chef in the future, so he was always serious when it came to cooking. He was also my first love. Yeah, quite nostalgic.
After that, I asked him to do the same work two or three more times, as he was full of himself after just straining the egg solution once.
‘A necessary step for making a smooth mixture.’
We then poured the thickened egg mixture into a pudding container and placed it in a steamer. The steamer was then placed on top of a pot full of steam, and the lid was put on.
–Okay, it was done!
I felt a strange sense of accomplishment in my heart, but when I turned around, I saw that he was also smiling with a somewhat satisfied look on his face.
“It will probably take around 15 minutes until it is ready. “
“After that will it be ready to eat? “
“Yes. When it’s done steaming, it’s better to cool it in the refrigerator. It will be ready in time for today’s tea gathering. “
I set the timer and in the meantime washed up the used bowls, whisk and pots. When I finished cleaning, it was time to go. The timer told me when it was ready with a beep, so I gently opened the steamer, being careful to avoid the steam.
I shook the steamer a little bit to make sure it was steamed to perfection, and with that confirmed, the golden egg pudding was ready.
And since it was extremely hot, I made sure to use my mittens to pick up the pudding.
I’m relieved. Fortunately, it didn’t deflate. It was done properly. Whenever my hand shook the pudding, ripples appeared on the surface. I liked firm pudding, but I liked it best when it was as puffy as this one. This one also looked like the kind that would melt on one’s tongue as well.
–Phew, I exhaled involuntarily. It seemed that I was quite a bit nervous without even realising it. A pleasant feeling of exhaustion spread through my body.
I looked at my watch — it was 10:30.
It wouldn’t be too late to prepare lunch even after I had a cup of tea. So I placed the kettle on the stove and turned on the fire. I took out some tea leaves from the cupboard and prepared a small teapot and two cups.
Meanwhile he sat down on a chair and relaxed.
I decided to sit down as well until the water boiled, and looked around aimlessly.
A familiar small kitchen.
A stainless-steel kitchen from the Showa era. An old ill-fitting sliding door connecting the living room to the kitchen. A flickering fluorescent lamp that needed to be replaced.
A black-haired, honey-eyed, escort knight in silver-shining armour staring smugly at the pudding cooling off on the old table. Outside the window, many soldiers with large spears were patrolling regularly, each day I was able to hear their brave shouts of “Ichi ni Ichi ni”.
Beyond the familiar miscellaneous trees around the house, such as cherry blossoms, plum trees, and persimmons, and the battered doghouse that was no longer in use, there was a sturdy wall of pure white that was so high I couldn’t see over it. A magnificent castle found itself over it.
–It was all familiar to me now.
But, even if someone were to ask me to explain the situation I wouldn’t know where to begin. All I knew for sure was that this wasn’t Japan anymore.
–I repeat once more, this was not Japan.
Then, was it a foreign country? No, no. It was a different world.
According to my little sister, I had taken a trip to another world, which was apparently in fashion nowadays.
This old Japanese house, my sister, myself, and my dog.
We had been transported to another world along with our house, and for some reason we’re now making pudding.