Yesterday, September 30th, was Chu Seok this year, the Korean Harvest Festival.  This is a very important celebration in Korea, and since I have been training under Dr. Tae Yun Kim for many years, I have come to love this festival.  It is all about giving thanks for the new crops, new harvest, and it’s about gratitude to family and friends, and of course, sharing fresh foods of all kinds is vital.  Think of it as a Korean Thanksgiving.

Dr. Tae Yun Kim explained to us that according to tradition, you must cook freshly harvested rice, make rice cakes, and serve fresh fruits of all sorts, grapes, pears, apples and Korean dates head that list.  Also fresh pumpkin and pumpkin soup, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, and corn are very typical.

I wanted to present Dr. Kim with something that included a good amount of the traditional foods, and yet also have meaning for Jung Suwon warriors.  I didn’t just want to make a good tasting cake, although I knew it must be that too, but I wanted to go beyond that.

So I started out with a double recipe of Shirley cake, uhm make that, “Perfect Pound Cake“, just click on it and it’ll get you to the recipe.  (we call it Shirley cake in honor of its creator and because we make it so much.)

The batter is perfect.  You can make it just as it states in the recipe, or you can put “stuff” in it.  Which I like to do a lot.  My first “alteration” was to add some cinnamon.

So, I was peeling and chopping a couple handfuls of boiled chestnuts – about a 3/4 cup total, and peeling and chopping baked Korean style sweet potatoes – also around 3/4 cups total, chopping up walnuts – half a cup, and one and a half chopped fresh white peaches (humongous ones.) I gently folded all these into the batter.

I was thinking, chestnuts are hidden away under a very prickly outside shell, if you just look at it, you wouldn’t know what a treasure is inside.  The same with walnuts – there is a tough covering on the outside, which turns nasty when ripe, and then there is a very hard shell – and then you get to the sweet and tasty nut – who would ever know that by just looking at them?

And again, sweet potatoes grow underground, and by just looking, you might never know what’s underneath – unless of course, as with all these things – you know what to look for.

And that is exactly how Dr. Kim helps people.  She knows what is deep inside them, no matter how they look, how they behave, and no matter what they think of themselves.  Like a farmer knows how to bring the best out of the ground, as crops, so Dr. Kim knows how to bring out the best in people.

Happy ChuSeok!