Just Enough by: Gesshin Claire Greenwood "Part memoir, part cookbook, part philosophical musing, Just Enough is perhaps the first recipe anthology you’ll read cover-to-cover before placing it on your kitchen shelf... Witty, discerning, engaging, and somehow familiar." -Foreword Reviews 12.16 - BUY BOOK
Bow First, Ask Questions Later
An adventure story about the meaning of life
Just Enough: Vegetarian Recipes from Japan’s Buddhist Temples
A vegan cookbook and meditation on the philosophy of “just enough.”


I’m a feminist author, Buddhist priest, and mental health worker. I believe the human condition is messy and infinitely interesting, and that the particular is universal. This is why I write about my own struggles-- to help readers feel connected and less alone.


Zen Cooking Basics, from "Just Enough"

Here are some things to remember as you prepare the dishes in this book or any other meals you are making.
1. Treat vegetables as though they were your own eyes — be careful with them, take care of them, and don’t touch them without washing your hands first.
2. Treat pots and pans like your own head. Same idea.
3. Understand the different cooking times of vegetables. Carrots cook slower than cabbage, so they need to be added to the pan first. Also, the larger the cut of vegetable (for example, with potatoes), the longer it will take to cook it. Green onions shrink and darken with heat, so if they are sliced thinly, they don’t need to be cooked at all. If making soup, greens such as spinach or komatsuna don’t need to be cooked either; they will wilt sufficiently in the scalding broth. Plan your cooking according to the cooking times of your ingredients.
4. Slice things with care. It’s nice to have all the vegetables cut the same size or at least the same shape, for example, all in slices or all in rounds.
5. Prepare all your ingredients beforehand. It is tempting to start cooking before all the things are chopped, but this will just make you feel rushed.
6. Be brave with salt! My rule of thumb is to add salt until, when you taste the food, your brain tells you, “Yum. I want to eat more!” It’s like going to Europe or falling in love — you’ll know when you get there. At the same time, it can be scary to add enough salt. Restaurant cooks will tell you that everyone underestimates how much salt (and sugar, but that’s another story) goes into restaurant food. But salt is not bad for you. Research has shown that high salt content is only dangerous for people who already have high blood pressure or kidney disease.
7. As in love, timing is everything. Serve hot food hot and cold food dressed at the last minute. Cook vegetables just the right amount of time. This sounds basic, but it is one of the hardest parts about cooking. You need to be in tune with what you are cooking. Watch closely and smell. Look for that color as vegetables brown. Dress your salad immediately before serving, not 10 minutes before, or it will be soggy. If you are serving soup and another dish, make the soup first and then the other dish. Immediately before serving, bring the soup back to a boil, and only then add the garnish. If making several dishes, understand which foods cook fastest and make them last.
8. Store cooking tools in places that make sense. Heavy pots should be stored in low places, spoons and chopsticks in higher places. Clean up afterwards.
9. Cook to nourish people and make them happy. Bring to mind those you are cooking for before you begin. Try to bring them joy with your food.
10. Basically, pay attention, understand and respect your materials, cook things the right amount of time, add just enough salt, and cook to nourish others.

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Gesshin Claire Greenwood

Gesshin Claire Greenwood is the author of Bow First, Ask Questions Later: Ordination, Love and Monastic Zen in Japan. She has been practicing Vipassana and Zen for over 12 years. An ordained Zen priest, she spent over 5 years in Japan, training in monasteries, studying, and teaching. Alongside James Ford, she is involved with Empty Moon Zen Sangha, and leads Buddhist retreats throughout California

An avid cook, dog lover, and sometimes collage maker, she blogs intermittently at http://www.thatssozen.blogspot.com.

"Gesshin Greenwood is the real deal. That’s what makes this book so valuable. It’s rare that someone from the West does any of this stuff, rarer still when they write about it, and yet even more rare that their writing is as good as Gesshin’s is. This is a truly unique document of a truly unique lived experience. "
  • Brad Warner
  • author of Hardcore Zen and Don't Be a Jerk
"A delightful personal account of cultures clashing in the midst of authentic Zen training. Trained in Japan and with some of the most important teachers of the day, Gesshin Greenwood breathes a fresh breath into an ancient way. This is a book for the beginning and for those of us well into the way. I highly recommend it."
  • James Ishmael Ford
  • author of Introduction to Zen Koans
"Bow First is a witty, wise, engaging story about a young woman’s experience of Zen practice in Japan. What could possibly go wrong when an attractive 20-something California girl meets the mundane and the ecstatic in both the zendo and the Kyoto night scene? We soon find out, as the author freely shares her personal struggles with sex, love, money, power and women’s rights—all in the context of her Zen practice."
  • Grace Schireson
  • author of Zen Women
"Only a fierce and brilliant woman could have produced this deliciously written account. It's honest, genuinely helpful, and earnest without sentimentality. Punchy and eloquent, Gesshin Greenwood sets a new standard for cool.” "
  • Bonnie Myotai Treace
  • author of Empty Branches
"“When the reader is ready, the right book comes along; Bow First, Ask Questions Later is that book. With rigor, honesty, hilarity and joy, Gesshin shows us how to grapple with the great matter of life and death—as well as with lesser matters, like capitalism, sexism, religious dogma, sex, love, fashion and Kyoto nightclubs. The result is an inspiring book that I couldn't put down, even when I’d finished reading it.”"
  • Ruth Ozeki
  • author of A Tale for the Time Being
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