Confessions of a Foodie

I admit I have a problem: I'm obsessed with kitchen gadgets and cookbooks.

So I'll ask you guys for advice: Which tools can't you live without in the kitchen? And which cookbooks do you swear by?

My food writer friends can't keep new cookbooks sent their way, so my library has everything from the foods of southwest France to "cooking beyond the Great Wall." I admit I don't cook a fraction of the recipes from any of them. Mostly I keep them for the appetizing food photography, as a reference book and a nice tabletop book.

There are copies of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (a must keep) and "365 Chicken Recipes for Everyday" (not really a keeper), but what is essential?

At some point I'll need to weed through my collection and keep the most coveted and useful books. I'd love to hear your suggestions.

But an even more painful obsession - at least for my bank account - is my love of kitchen gadgets.

I'm not as bad as many people I know who collect the latest mixer, knife or pot like people who must have the latest car, phone or computer.

I had one chef who said he was all into the bell and whistles as a student but as he's aged, he's appreciated simplicity more.

It's easier said than done. I still don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer or Cuisinart food processor. But I also want shiny, sharp Japanese-made knives and a nice butcher's block. Where to start?