Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Dear readers,

I have decided to end the Book Pantry. I can no longer maintain regular posting, and not being able to has added unnecessary stress to my life. And so, for now, I'm calling it quits.  I'll be leaving posts up (for a while at least), but some of the later pictures may not work as I've cancelled my storage account.

Thank you so much for reading!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat

No special title today; it just doesn't get much more punny than the title of today's book (would you like a cracker with all that cheese?). I was in the mood for something light and cozy over the holidays and picked up this little gem of a cozy mystery. But really, how could I not pick up a book about a librarian and her somewhat magical cats?

The Basics
Kelly, Sofie. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat. New York: Obsidion, 2011. eBook.

Sofie Kelly is the pseudonymous author of the magical cats mystery series (of which, this post features book 1). She is also known as Darlene Ryan, young adult author of some seriously cheerful (that's sarcasm, by the way) novels for teens. In her spare time, Kelly cooks, practices tai chi, creates mixed media art, and drools over Matt Lauer.

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat follows main character Kathleen, head librarian of a small town library, who has been specially hired to supervise library renovations. However, between dealing with a absentee contractor and being a person of interest in a murder investigation, she has her work cut out for her. Fortunately, the two cats that adopted her when she moved to town, Hercules and Owen, have got the situation and the mystery well in hand (or paw, as the case may be).

The Book
As much as librarians and their magical cats appeal to me in mystery format, I was a bit hesitant when I first picked this book up. It was either going to be enjoyable or inspire an oh-dear-God-my-eyes sort of reaction. Fortunately, it was definitely the former.

In fact, the most enjoyable part of the book - the mystery itself - surprised me by its quality. I love a good mystery. I loathe it when a mystery book stumps the reader, not through skill, but because the author didn't lay all the clues out for the reader to pick up on if they could. Conversely, I'm pretty well versed in the mystery genre and can usually solve the mystery before the book does because I know what to look for. I love it when the author can lay it all out and still keep me guessing, and this book does exactly that. I was fairly certain I knew what was going on, but Kelly planted enough red herrings and twists that I couldn't pin it down exactly. As a result, the conclusion of the book satisfied me that the guess I had made were right, while still managing to surprise me a little: the best kind of mystery!

I also enjoyed how true to its genre this book remained. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is quite firmly planted in the cozy mystery subset. Kelly keeps things realistic: the main character gets hurt and is certainly not infallible. But, that realism never overrides the cozy aura of the novel, making this a great book to curl up with.

I've saved the best for last, though. Kathleen's cats are awesome. Hercules is a Tuxedo cat who hates getting his paws wet and may or may not be able to walk through walls. And Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction, whose ferocious hunting skills are likely aided by his powers of invisibility. These two are so completely cat-like and well characterized I felt like I could reach out and pet them (not that they'd let me). They took a regular old mystery and made it something special and worth reading.

My name's Sebastian R. Gato and I approve this message...
and these apples.
  • Kelly has a great website, though, admittedly, my opinion is influenced by the presence of black cats.
  • While you're there, definitely check out the extras section, which features stuff from the book like recipes, tai chi form, and info on feral cats.
  • Speaking of feral cats, check out Alley Cat Allies, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of kitties all over.
  • And while we're on the topic, check out my favorite local non profit: Forgotten Felines. Scroll down, look at those fuzzy, cute faces. Locals, you know you want to adopt!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Super Easy Sunday: Cheese Ball

Welcome back! I hope you all had a great holiday season. I know I did, but it's definitely time to get back on track

I did a lot of cooking over the last month or so.  My goal for this recipe was to create an appetizer that was quick to make, could be made in advance, had few ingredients, and was really easy. It's very similar to the Ranch Cheese Ball that I've posted in the past, but with fewer ingredients and less prep time.

What You'll Need
Food processor w/ shredding attachment                               Knife for chopping
                            or                                                               Cutting board
Cheese grater                                                                         Spatula
Large mixing bowl                                                                Measuring spoons
Mixing spoon                                                                        Small bowl
8 oz block sharp cheddar cheese                                           Tobasco
8 oz low fat cream cheese                                                     Pecans
1 1/2 tsp onion powder                                                          Flour

Now Let's Make a Cheese Ball!
I'll be giving directions as if you had a food processor, but keep in mind that you can always do it by hand.

Set up your food processor with the shredder attachment. Cut your cheese block into pieces that will fit into the food processor shoot if necessary (an 8oz block usually fits in mine). Turn the food processor on and push the cheese down the shoot to shred it. Remove the shredder attachment, and dump cheese into small bowl. Refit the food processor with the normal blade attachment and return cheese to processor. 

Mmmm... cheesy
Add your 8 oz block of cream cheese. Make sure to break the cream cheese up into chunks.

Messy? Nooooo
Now add 1 1/2 tsp of onion powder.

Ever notice how onion powder clings
Next add several shakes of Tobasco to taste. I usually do about 7 shakes, but it will depend on your spiciness preferences.

On your cutting board, chop a couple handfuls of pecans. You want a little over 1 cup once chopped. 

Chop, chop!
Take a small handful, and add it to the food processor. 

Secure the lid on the food processor and begin pulsing the mixture. Switch the food processor to on and allow it to mix ingredients until smoothly blended. You may have to stop occasionally and push down large clumps with your spatula.

Using your spatula, spoon the cheese mixture over the chopped pecans on your cutting board. Flour your hands, and pat the cheese into a ball shape. Roll it around in the pecans until it is thoroughly coated.

Voila! Cheese Ball. Refrigerate and serve with crackers.