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For the next four days I'm participating in a blog hop to celebrate community. All kinds of community.This hop is the brainchild of Pavarti K. Tyler of Fighting Monkey Press. Read all the way to the end to find out how to win prizes from our blog hop community of authors!
Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta with raspberry coulis and basil syrup. Photo & dish: Aaron James Lahey

We're kicking off the hop by sharing recipes. I am not much of a cook, however, perhaps inspired by my lack of skills, my son (age 20) has developed considerable finesse in the kitchen.

When he was fifteen he asked to take a summer cooking course. The manager of the school noticed his intense love of and focus on preparing (and eating) good food, so she introduced him to a woman at the SF Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market who took him produce shopping for a wonderful restaurant. She also introduced him to the chefs who gathered at the market in the early morning. 

He not only learned a lot about produce, he made connections that built into both short and long-term internships, or 'stages' as they're called in the industry. Talk about community!

Throughout high school, my son worked in high-end restaurants, not only learning how to cook and prepare food, but also learning responsibility, humility, and the kind of superhuman work ethic required to run a top-notch kitchen. We are especially grateful to Lawrence Jossel of Nopa for taking our son under his wing. He taught him a good deal more than how to cook.

You may be surprised to learn that our son decided not to pursue a culinary career and now attends college instead, recently finishing up a year abroad in Germany. He did come home with a full account of the food there. But a skill like cooking is a life-skill with the ability to bring people together. He will carry this gift with him always. The dish in the photo is a dessert he put together, styled, and photographed. The recipe follows:

Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta

2 Tsp. Gelatine Powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cream
2 Tsp. vanilla extract
strips of zest from 1 meyer lemon
chopped almonds for garnish

dissolve gelatin pack in 1/4 cup of cold water. Let rest for 3 minutes. Add milk and cream to a saucepan with vanilla and lemon rind. Slowly bring to a boil. Add the gelatin and continue cooking until it is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into individual aluminum cups, sprayed with cooking spray. Put in refrigerator for 4 hours, or until gelatin is set. 

Raspberry coulis

1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. water
1 pound fresh raspberries

heat sugar and water on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved. blend raspberries and simple syrup in a blender, then strain through a fine sieve. 

Basil Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

bring all three ingredients to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. 

Mmmmm - and thanks be to the cooks and chefs and in our lives! And please enter for a chance to win one of these great prizes!

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