I must confess that after mocking high-tech appliances in my first cookbook, I learned to operate a food processor -- and came dangerously close to getting hooked. Someone bought me mini-Cuisinart (which I promptly hid in a cupboard). I was beginning to appreciate its virtues, however, until karma caught up with me and I smoked the motor while attempting to whip mashed potatoes for twelve.
Moral of the story: Stick with what works for you. A simple assortment of kitchen tools will enable you to prepare everything in the book. Here's a checklist:
8 to 10 quart stock pot with lid
10-inch saute pans, preferably with nonstick surface
Assortment of bowls
Oven-proof baking dish
Blender or food processor
Sharp 6 or 8-inch chef's knife
Colander or pasta strainer
Pair of long tongs
2-cup-size measuring cup
Standard set of measuring spoons
If you are missing any one of these basics, I recommend a trek to your local restaurant supply store, which makes for a great action adventure. (Check the Yellow Pages.) These stores are usually much less expensive than kitchen or department stores, and they offer everything you need, in many sizes and increments. The fear of cooking for twelve will dissipate when you see the industrial-sized equipment they sell to feed hundreds in one sitting. When purchasing pots, pans, mixing bowls, etc., select those that are attractive enough (in an industrial sort of way) to serve from. It's not necessarily a matter of money -- sone just look ugly while others are more presentable. The presentable choice will come in handy when you find that you've used up all your serving vessels during the course of a large party.
I consider a bathroom to be clean if there are no wet towels on the floor and the shower faucet is not dripping. However, in order for your guests to pamper themselves in the "manor" in which they have grown accustomed, there are a few common-sense supplies that you should have:
An extra roll of toilet paper in clear view
A plunger tucked away but noticeable
A fresh bar of luxurious soap
Clean hand towels
A box of tissues
A wastepaper basket
A respectably sized mirror: (It's hard to check your hair and shoes at the same time in a small round shaving mirror.)
Privacy. In the absence of a locking door, have a "Knock Before Entering" sign on the outside.
the adventure club
Use fragrant flowers such as tuberoses, lilacs or jasmine, or dried flowers in the form of potpourri, as a natural room deordorizer
Light the bathroom exclusively by candlelight. The gentle light spares guests from walking out of a dimly lit dining area into a lavatory that is illuminated like an interrogation room
Advanced Adventure Club types may want to fill the tub with water and create a water garden of floating candles, lilies and rose petals.