Brown says her cooking improved after she began keeping mini-tureens of salt and pepper by the stove. The quick access meant she seasoned food more liberally ("Butler's Pantry" bowls, $58 each; 800-63-LENOX).
Two of Brown's favorites are Lee Bailey's Cooking For Friends and Soup Meals: "His language isn't intimidating, and you really get a sense of the South" (Kitchen Arts & Letters; 212-876-5550).
Brown bought Slate tiles for her kitchen floor at Lowe's. "Spills show less on slate, and that's good for a sloppy cook like me," she says ($1 to $3 a tile; 800-44-LOWES).