Jack-Approved Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookie

We have a neighbor named Jack who runs an organic vegetarian cafe. Every so often, I share with Jack some of my baked goodies. Jack is always grateful but sparing with his praise, but there is one cookie that he complimented and so his approval is especially memorable. If Jack says it's good, it must be good. I came across this recipe when someone gifted us with shredded coconut and I wasn't sure what to do with it. The original recipe from Ambitious Kitchen called for coconut oil but I like butter better. 

1 cup oats (original recipe called for quick oats. I used regular rolled oats just fine)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
¼ t salt (I omit this if I use salted butter which is sometimes the only thing available)
½ cup butter
¾ cups sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut
2 t milk
100 g chocolate (original recipe called for chocolate chunks. I just used semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Mix wet ingredients, then mix in the dry ingredients, chunkier ingredients last. Bake at 350°F for 9-11 minutes. 

Frances' Chocolate Cake

"Oh yes," said Mother, "you may be sure that there will always be 
plenty of chocolate cake around here."
- A Baby Sister for Frances, Russel and Lillian Hoban

Every family ought to have their own go-to chocolate cake recipe, and this happens to be ours. I got it off the back of the packet of Ghirardelli's Premium Baking Cocoa and it's their recipe for their Grand Fudge Cake (or cupcake). One time I ran out of confectioner's sugar and discovered a way to make a nice chocolate frosting without it. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t salt (I omit this if I use salted butter which is sometimes the only thing available)
1 cup butter 
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 t vanilla
2 large eggs
 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 9" round cake pans. In a bowl, sift together baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl,cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add vanilla and eggs. Alternately add flour mixture and milk (starting and ending with flour mixture) while mixing until smooth. Pour into the pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. 

No Confectioner's Sugar Chocolate Frosting

1 cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup butter
¼ cup milk
1 t vanilla

Bring the first 4 ingredients to a boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat then add vanilla. Cool partially and then beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Spread on cooled cake. 

Southern Fried Chicken Karaage

Every book I've read set in the American South almost always has Southern Fried Chicken in it. I'm gastronomically curious as to how different this is from the fried chickens I've ever had. Someone passed on to me Amy Sedaris' I like you: Hospitality under the influence and saw how ridiculously simple her recipe is. Unfortunately, I don't have the buttermilk and lard that her recipe called for so I substituted yoghurt for buttermilk and just plain cooking oil for frying. I also used chicken breast and cut them into bite-sized pieces much like your regular Japanese karaage. The results were outstanding. My husband who used to be stationed at South Carolina declared this to be as good as he remembered. He requested this for his birthday.   

Chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
cornstarch and flour (1:1 ratio)
oil for frying

Marinate chicken pieces in yoghurt, paprika, salt and pepper overnight. Dredge in the cornstarch-flour mix. Deep fry until done. Serve hot.