Cook of the Week: Roselle woman passionate about sweets
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When she's not on the tennis court Peggy Schwerman is in her Roselle kitchen mixing up sweet treats and seasonal salads.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Peggy Schwerman has proved she has quite a serve — a tennis serve that is — playing the game competitively for 40 years.
"That doesn't make me good. It just makes me crazy. I'm a tennis junkie," she adds.
The Roselle resident also has proved she knows how to serve something else — homemade desserts and salads that people love.
"When I go to parties, they ask me to bring a dessert from a chocolate mousse to a cheesecake," she said adding, "I like my cheesecake much better than Eli's or anybody else's."
Peggy splits her time between her passions: playing tennis four to six times a week and hosting gatherings with close friends. She hosts a ladies fun day at her family's Wisconsin home where the group plays tennis and golf, dances and, of course, enjoys lots of food. Peggy says the gathering has become a tradition for a decade now.
"When I see people having a good time, it makes all the work worthwhile," she said.
Knowing her friends expect her to create a special dessert whenever they gather, Peggy said her biggest challenge is deciding what to make.
"Everything else is such a breeze," she said.
Peggy may have inherited her passion for desserts from her mother who would fill the home with such Bohemian pastries as fruit-filled kolaches and coffee cakes.
"We used to pick wild Concord grapes, and she made the best Concord grape coffee cake in the world," she said.
With summer here, Peggy has quite a list of seasonal desserts to choose from. Her frozen ice cream dessert features a graham cracker and salted peanut crust layered with vanilla ice cream and a mixture of chocolate, confectioners sugar and egg whites. She also layers strawberries, blueberries, whipped topping and pound cake into a lighter dessert.
"What I like best is when they take a bite and they say it's so good. I know it's good too when they ask for the recipe," she said. "But some (friends) will not ask for the recipe because they want me to make it the next time we get together."
Peggy also has never been shy to ask for a recipe when a dish catches her eye. A while back a friend brought an odd grape salad to a party and Peggy relegated it to the back of the table. Yet after tasting the salad, she realized the summery treat deserved a place in her recipe collection. Today, you can add it to your own.
"It was so good I could not believe it. This is one recipe wherever I go, I have to bring the recipe," she said. "It is so simple; It tastes like a cheesecake on top of grapes."
Another salad she loves and is happy to share with readers too is her asparagus salad. The dish combines blanched asparagus and a sauce of sugar, soy sauce, salt and toasted sesame seeds.
If all that cooking doesn't keep her busy enough, Peggy makes 14 types of candies and cookies — including toffee squares, praline strips, almond horns and shortbread — that she sells at local craft fairs.
"Thank goodness I am active because I do love my desserts," she said.
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