Not to sound like a broken record, but I pay approximately 50% in income tax and another 25% VAT on everything I buy. Yes, even groceries!
This definitely sucks, so I’ve come up with a game I call “how low can I go?” It’s not even a game really, it’s just a personal challenge to see how much of my net salary I can save each month.
A year ago, I’d think someone of means would be crazy to deprive themselves like this, but it’s a whole other ballgame over here.
First of all, shopping is completely intimidating. This being Denmark, salespeople approach me in Danish. If I need help, I say as politely as possible, “I’m sorry, do you speak English?” and hope for the best. If I don’t need help, I smile as sweetly as possible and say, “just browsing, thank you”. Generally, people are cool, sometimes they’re not, but whatever, it makes it easy to save money when shopping is such a chore. At the grocery store, I pay in cash to avoid any possible snafu’s with the debit terminal, say a quick “tak for det” when they give me my change, bag my goods, and escape as quickly as possible.
The language barrier aside, there’s not a whole lot of choice here. Someday, I’d like to do a photo post that shows you how little choice we have. It’s pretty much brand name or generic. There are no endless selections of brands, flavors, and sizes. You need ketchup? OK, brand name or generic… done.
The “how low can I go?” game has several sub games, one of which is “how far can I stretch a 900g bag of dried chickpeas?” The answer is, farther than you think!
I’ve mentioned before that I’m loving Thai and Indian inspired flavors. This dish hits the trifecta of fast, stretching a kroner, and indulging my taste for curry and coconut!
Curried Coconut Chickpeas Recipe
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 – 1 T curry paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 T soy sauce
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1 T brown sugar
fresh juice from 1/2 lime
chopped fresh basil
Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute, until they start to brown, then add the garlic and curry paste. Saute until the garlic softens, then add the chickpeas, soy sauce and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 – 15 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, sugar, and lime juice. Simmer another 10 minutes, then stir in the basil.
I served this over brown rice, which is my standard, but I’m sure it would be delightful over Jasmine rice, or white rice simmered with tea or cinnamon sticks.
I used 1 T of red curry paste, which was quite spicy. Next time, I’ll cut back on the curry, or experiment with green or yellow curry paste. I’ll also add some veggies along with the chickpeas… maybe cauliflower, carrots, red peppers, and zucchini?
I used 2 leftover canned tomatoes, which I chopped and added along with a bit of their juice. If I didn’t have to use up canned tomatoes, I would’ve used 1 medium or large fresh tomato.
Cilantro tastes soapy to me, but if you like cilantro, I’d sub it for the basil because it’s more authentic :)
I think I’ll make this for dinner tomorrow! Mason’s out of town, so I can have a serious chickpea party (he’s not a huge fan).
Did you see this article?: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/dining/14curious.html
I found this part especially interesting: “But he explained that every new experience causes the brain to update and enlarge its set of patterns, and this can lead to a shift in how we perceive a food. ‘I didn’t like cilantro to begin with,’ he said. ‘But I love food, and I ate all kinds of things, and I kept encountering it. My brain must have developed new patterns for cilantro flavor from those experiences, which included pleasure from the other flavors and the sharing with friends and family. That’s how people in cilantro-eating countries experience it every day.’”
That looks AWESOME. Have you checked out Aarstiderne?? They’re a veggie delivery company. I used to get Single Kasse but now I get Lille Mix Kasse. It means I rarely have to do big shops.
The phrase you need for “I am just browsing” is “yai air bar keythththuh” I can’t spell it and I can only just say it. The place to practise shopping-Danish, is in the second hand stores with old lady Danes. They are THE BEST and they will speak really slowly and clearly even when they work out they are talking to a foreigner. I <3 them.
Sometimes I visit Sweden, Holland or Germany and every time I am overwhelmed by the choice in the shops. It is like Goodbye Lenin living here.
Yum, another great recipe to try, thanks! I’ll have to try cooking with chickpeas.
I love curries, too. Lately I’ve been cooking a Thai Green Curry with Eggplant slices.
How is dear Opie these days?
Cari: Hmmm… maybe I should get a cilantro plant and taste it once a day, along with a glass of wine ;)
A&J: I’ve heard good things about Aarstiderne, but haven’t gotten around to trying it. I’m restarting sprogskole on Monday and there’s a Genbrug shop next to my office, perhaps I’ll go over there at lunch for practice, I need some lamps, anyway!
SS: I’ll post an Opie photo soon. He’s unfortunately developed a little biting habit and likes to escape from my flat up the stairs to my not so friendly neighbor, but mostly he’s sweet, happy, and snuggly like a little Teddy Bear. Thanks for asking :)
I had the same experience with cilantro as that article describes. I *hated* it, but for a while it was the trendy thing to use and was in damned near everything. Somewhere along the line I went from “hate” to “tolerate” to “love” to “crave”. It’s very strange!
This is WONDERFUL! It is budget friendly here in the US too. I’ve really enjoyed your blog and am inspired by your thrifty living and life choices.
– Lori (Wisconsin)
Thanks for posting, I hope you’ll stop by again :)