Material World

In the last few years, I have become increasingly more materialistic. I am consumed by this desire for things– expensive things, pretty things, shiny things, whimsical things, nice-smelling things, mechanical things, fast things, ephemeral things. I want it all. And yet, had you asked me at a younger age, let’s say high school, if I would ever buy these things – I would have been completely disinterested and utterly blissful in my disinterest. What would I do with an expensive designer handbag comparable to a month or two of mortgage? Or red soled heels that eventually get beat up by the sidewalk? Or the endless tubes of makeup and the numerous strands of jewelry; or the stacks of laptops and tablet devices; the racks upon racks of clothing; the red wine goblets AND the white wine goblets; an assortment of vases – galvanized, glass, ceramic, clear, opaque, mercury. How did I get here? When did living simply go out of fashion? I reflect on this today after a series of unfortunate events this weekend that made me re-evaluate the true value of these material things. I sat amidst a pile of my things this weekend, holding up each item, trying really hard to assign value or meaning to justify the purchase. I was at a loss. Many of these things held very little value beyond the intrinsic value of the raw goods used to make them. I also couldn’t seem to associate a memory or emotion to these things. I had accumulated so much stuff, most of which I did not need. We know there is very little positive correlation between consumerism and happiness, and yet, we/I’ve been trapped into this never-ending cycle of spending and accumulating.


Salmon Croquettes
Loosely based off Barefoot Contessa

1/2 pound raw salmon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
3-4 sprigs of dill, roughly chopped
1 tbs capers, drained
small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, minced
2-3 stalks of green onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp juice of fresh squeezed lemon (or to taste)
2-3 tbs Dijon mustard (or to taste)
1-2 tbs of mayonnaise
generous dose of hot sauce as needed
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups of panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Place the salmon on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes, just barely until cooked. Remove from oven, cover with foil (to keep moisture in the fish), and allow to rest to room temperature.


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the eggs and panko. Once the fish is cool enough to handle / at room temp, flake the fish and add to the bowl. Season again and as needed with additional salt and pepper. Add ONE beaten egg and combine until the mixture begins to stick together. Shape patties with the fish mixture. Dip the patties in a bit of beaten egg-wash, then dip into the panko, shaking off any excess. Alternatively, you can just form the patties and pan-fry as is, but I think the extra panko crust just makes the patty so much better by adding another layer of crunch and texture. See for yourself which version you prefer.


Deep fry until each patty is golden brown. Remove, drain the oil and serve hot. If you need to fry in batches, simply place the drained patties on a cooling rack, place the rack over a baking sheet, then place in oven at around 175*F, just to keep the patties warm. The cooling rack will help keep the cooked patties crisp while you finish frying the remaining patties. For the dipping sauce, I doctored a bit of mayonnaise by adding a bit more EVOO, minced garlic, a splash of lemon juice and zest, minced dill, a bit of salt and pepper.


These lovely salmon cakes are great as an appetizer, or on a bed of greens and a nice tangy vinaigrette (as seen in the first image there). I love that the capers and lemon add a nice zing to cut through the fatty salmon; the dill also packs some great freshness and flavor; and that panko crust is to die for. Enjoy.

Over the years, I will likely continue to collect things. It’s hard not to, living in a reinforcing cycle of consumerism. But perhaps if I had a new year’s resolution, it would be to buy fewer things, and only to do so mindfully.


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