Peg Sheaffer prepares Spinach Souffle with Leeks and Gruyere Cheese

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Spinach souffle with leeks and Gruyere cheese made by Cook of the Year Peg Scheaffer from Prairie Crossing in Grayslake.

 

Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Cook of the Year Peg Scheaffer from Prairie Crossing in Grayslake with her spinach souffle with leeks and Gruyere cheese.

 

Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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Peg Sheaffer prepares Spinach Souffle with Leeks and Gruyere Cheese

Inspiration never far from her kitchen

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print story Published: 12/29/2008 12:02 AM

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As co-owner of Sandhill Organics farm in Grayslake, inspiration is never far from Peg Scheaffer's kitchen.

With 40 acres of vegetables and "hoop houses" for winter cultivation, Peg maintains a year-round supply of produce.

"I'm doing a lot more freezing, canning and dehydrating," says Peg, who with her husband, Matt, supplied produce this year to 275 members of their consumer-supported agriculture program.

"It is so painful to go to the store in wintertime to buy produce," she says. "It is such a joy to cook with our own stuff all year long."

Best meal I cooked in 2008: It was eaten on our screen porch one warm summer evening. We feasted on our own fresh-picked sweet corn, creamy cucumber salad and sliced heirloom tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We finished with a simple blackberry tart.

Culinary goal 2009: Learn to make tortillas.

Culinary dream: To establish a small herd of dairy goats and learn to make cheese.

Best ingredient discovery 2008: Mascarpone cheese. I like to add a little honey or maple syrup to it and put it on fresh fruit and warm gingerbread.

Favorite new kitchen tool: A food dehydrator. I dry fresh-cut herbs and make fruit leather for my kids.

Best culinary experience 2008: This was the first year we raised pigs. It was so rewarding, I'm eager to do it again next year. The quality of the meat is unlike what you can buy in the store.

Best new recipe source 2008: I recently discovered the Web site for one of my favorite cooking shows, The Splendid Table, on public radio, splendidtable.publicradio.org

Best dining experience 2008: North Pond in Lincoln Park. Chef Bruce Sherman's seasonally inspired menu was out of this world; plus we loved sitting in the cozy, wood-paneled dining room next to the fireplace on a cold, snowy night.

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