For whatever reason, instead of normal June weather, we’ve been having August weather here in Japan this week. Right now it’s in the 90′s, seriously humid (about 70%), and super windy.
Fortunately, I’ve done the laundry, done my workout, gone to the pool to swim laps, vacuumed, and cleaned everything I needed to in the un-air-conditioned part of our apartment. This means I get to spend the hottest part of the day hidden away in my dark air-conditioned cave (i.e. the living room with all sliding doors closed and curtains drawn) and rest. At least until dinner time, and then I’ll have to go into our super hot kitchen to cook dinner. But for now, I’m good.
Yesterday at karate, I found out that there’s a level test (the test to move up a rank in karate and get a different colored belt) this coming Sunday. I had no clue. Near the end of class we all practiced different kata (routines of specific karate moves performed in succession), mainly for those who’ll be taking the test on Sunday. The teacher asked one black belt, who’s been helping me learn the kata required for a white belt to level up, which kata I knew. She told him I knew all the kata required for the level test for white-belts (beginners, bottom level), so the teacher said, “Oh! Well you should just take the test this Sunday then!”
Now I thought he was joking, and laughed it off, but after class, one of the other students I’m friends with asked me if I was going to take the test. I told her I thought the teacher was joking, because I’ve only taken karate for a little over a month, and usually you have to take karate for at least three months before you can take a level test.
She told me she didn’t think he was joking, and I should take the level test, that way we could take it together (she’s also taking the test on Sunday). I asked the teacher if he was serious when he said I should take the test. He said that, yeah, he was, and then handed me an application. Although I know all of the moves and kata I need to know for the test, there’s a written test as well (in Japanese). The most important part of the written test is writing the dojo oath (in Japanese). I asked the teacher about that, because I knew there was no way I could memorize the oath (in Japanese) before Sunday, but he told me I could write it in English this time. As for the other questions, he said not to worry about them this time, lol. Evidently when your a white belt, they go pretty easy on you for your first level test.
So yeah. I have my first level test on Sunday. Although most of the test will be performed with everyone else trying to level up, I think I’ll be the only white belt from the adult class, so I’ll have to do the kata by myself in front of everyone (gah!).
Psh, nervous? Me? Never! *cough*
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I tried out two more French recipes for dinner last night: French onion soup and Salade Niçoise (pronounced [nee-swahz]). Both came out well, although the soup took longer to make than I expected.
Now I’ve had French onion soup before, but this was my first time to have Niçoise salad. I loved it though! All those vegetables! And on top of that, olives and capers! Yay! If you read my post about spaghetti puttanesca, you’ll remember that I love anything with olives and capers in it.
It was a lovely salad, and not at all hard to make. The dressing is also very simple. I recommend this as a good summer dish to make for dinner.
I had no chervil for this, so I just left it out. No biggy. Also, Niçoise olives are basically non-existent here as far as I know, so I used good ole black olives. Again, no biggy.
Salade Niçoise (serves 2 – 3)
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and cut into 1 1/2 in. pieces
- 2 cans olive oil packed tuna, drained
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh chervil, diced
- 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
- 2 red potatoes (about 1/2 – 2/3 pound)
- 1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 in. pieces
- 1/2 c. Niçoise olives, drained and sliced
- 1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp. capers
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 2 eggs
- 1 small tomato, or 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes
- In a small jar (old clean jam jars work great for this) add lemon juice, mustard, garlic, chervil, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Screw on lid tightly and shake vigorously about 10 times. Set aside.
- Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Add potatoes and cook until tender, but not completely soft, about 15 minutes. Add the two whole eggs into the same pot and boil for about ten minutes. Add green beans to the pot in the last 4 – 5 minutes of boiling. Drain everything. Run green beans under cold water and add to a large bowl. Set potatoes aside to cool. When cool, cut into large matchsticks and add to bowl. Peel the eggs, slice them, and set aside.
- Add the carrots, red bell pepper, red onion, drained tuna, sliced olives, capers, and chopped basil to the bowl.
- Slice the tomato into quarters (or if using cherry tomatoes, cut in half) and add to the bowl.
- Pour just enough of the dressing over the salad to moisten everything, and toss well, making sure not to mash the potatoes. Divide between serving plates. Arrange the sliced boiled eggs on top of the salad and serve with the remaining dressing for anyone who wants to add more.
You might be thinking, “Wait! That’s the wrong kind of cheese on the French onion soup!” I know, I know. But seriously, if you actually can find gruyère cheese in Japan, it’s ridiculously expensive for a tiny amount, so I used the cheese I had. Also, our Japanese broiler is mainly meant for fish, so two bowls of soup wouldn’t exactly fit. To improvise, I just toasted the baguette slices with cheese on them in the toaster, and then placed them on top of the soup. It might not look as pretty, but it sure tasted good!