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Welcome aboard! Thank you for joining me on my journey to become a better tenzo for my family. What’s a tenzo? Good question. Wikipedia says:

Tenzo is a title given to the chef at a Buddhist monastery. The literal
translation is ‘Heavenly Monk’.

From ancient times Buddhist monasteries have had six office-holders
who, as disciples of the Buddha, guide the monastic community. Amongst
these, the tenzo bears the responsibility of caring for the community’s
meals. The Zen Monastic Standards states; “The tenzo functions as the one
who makes offerings with reverence to the monks.”

A bit wordy and cumbersome way to describe what we in Western society often call a “stay-at-home mom” or even just “mom”. But there’s more to it and the definition of tenzo points to it.

“The tenzo bears the responsibility of caring for the community’s meals…” Not just making the meals but caring for the meals for the entire community. I care about the meals my family eats, but do I care for them? Is taking care of the same as caring for? These are the kind of questions I like to ponder. Most importantly, if I don’t care about the meals, who will?

When I look at my family I see a husband who works hard (12 hours/day +, including a grueling commute) and a daughter (9) who does not yet know all the ins and outs of nutrition. Then there’s me. I like to read Cook’s IllustratedHow to Cook Everything is my go-to book for food preparation. But I’m not hot on the cook dinner every night thing. In fact, I resent it. Why? Probably some baggage hanging around from my youth.So what’s a mother to do? Then it occurs to me “Somebody’s gotta be the cook.” Someone has to step up and do the job or I have to reconcile myself to feeding my family fast-food and take out for the rest of our lives. In our family, that someone is me. “The one who makes offerings with reverence…” <Gulp> Too many of the meals I make are an offering of resentment, not reverence. Is this really what I want to serve my family?

So here we are. It’s the summer of 2012. I can’t eat wheat or products containing gluten. I’m the cook, like it or not. And I like to write. I mean, I *really* like to write. I’ve been journaling for most of my life. It helps me to clarify my thoughts and codify my experiences. It’s how I process things. With my new gluten-free diet, I can’t arbitrarily declare pizza night because I don’t want to be bothered to cook. Things have gotten way more complex and I’m in the process of figuring them out. How do I do this meal-planning thing in a way that works for me? Shopping? Recipes? What the heck can I eat? How can I keep my husband and child happy, healthy, and well-fed without preparing separate meals for everyone? And what about my budget? Food prices are rising and the cost of gluten-free foods is already sky-high.

I don’t know how I’m going to make this all work, but I do know that this is the place where I will be figuring it all out by posting weekly or more often. Hopefully, I will make some friends on this journey and also help some folks who have their own issues with the kitchen. Certainly, I want to have some fun. When you study Zen, you learn that each moment is it. The totality of what we have, of what there is. I want to enjoy those moments. To savour them like a fine meal. To taste each moment in its fullness, its tartness and sweetness, its joy and sorrow. It’s all that there is. Let’s eat it up!